Words That Help

Rap Songs About Recovery

Rap Songs About Recovery

I used to drink every single day at WORK!

10 Long Island Teas. 10 double shots of Grand Marnier.

That is how I would start every day at the office. First thing. Before I could get any work done, I had to down at least a couple of each.

Now, full disclosure, I am a full-time musician. I make money from playing music in bars and restaurants i.e. “The Office.” It may be one of the very few jobs where drinking is actually ENCOURAGED on the job.

Sounds awesome, right?

Not at all. I guess it is at first, but it gets old really fast. Because the more your drink, the more you NEED to drink to have a good time. It got to the point where I was living out one of the famous scenes from The Blues Brother’s movie. I would have to pay more for my bar tab than I was getting paid for my services.

And then afterward, I would spend the rest of my money at Taco Bell.

That is what we call an unsustainable business model. And it was. Both for my pocketbook and my body.

It got to the point where I was drinking at least 20 drinks a night and still not feeling a thing. I would throw up from all the shear intake of liquid, then turn around and keep drinking hoping that eventually I would get a little buzz.

Dude. What a miserable existence.

I knew I had to quit when I ended up the E.R. with severe heart palpitations. That was my rock bottom. And I walked out of that hospital and began my sobriety journey.

The hardest part for me was still playing in bars every night. Just because I wasn’t drinking, that didn’t mean i didn’t have to go to work. I had to sit there and watch everyone party around me.

It really sucked.

I was jealous and pissed a lot. I was probably not a lot of fun to be around either.

But it did get better with time.

Anyhoo, the whole reason I am telling you all of this is because one of the biggest saviors in my recovery has been music. I have been able to put all my struggles into rap songs about recovery. It has given me an outlet to pour all my emotion into. I don’t know what I would do without it. I mean, I would still recover one day at a time, but having music to turn to has been a game changer for me.

One of the first songs I wrote about my recovery was a song called “Pain.” As you might guess, it was a song about just how bad my life had gotten. I was in a lot of physical pain and even more emotional pain. I was struggling to see any hope or any way out. So I sat down and wrote a super honest song about it.

Pain” was really hard to write. I knew if I was going to do this song, I had to be brutally honest. There are a few lines in that song that I still cringe when I hear because it takes me back to that awful place.

Here is one particularly rough part of the song for me to listen to:

“Every day is a battle of wills,
My body versus me and who's got the skills?
Will I get out of bed, able to walk with a high head,
Or will I need a wheelchair instead?
I have to choose if the joy of sitting down is worth the pain of getting up,
Man, writing that down and saying it out loud feels really messed up.”

It was true. I could barely walk and I was headed for a wheelchair for sure. At the age of 40 I was about to need a wheelchair. Not because of any injury or life-threatening disease, but because I couldn’t stop drinking and eating and I had gained so much weight that my body was crumbling beneath me.

One of the first songs I wrote after going to a food recovery retreat and starting to work the 12 steps of Overeaters Anonymous (same as Alcoholics Anonymous), was a song called “The Mess Around.” I wrote this song with my good friend Chela Mancuso.

This was one of the first songs I wrote when I started to see hope again. This was a fun one to write and record. I still enjoy listening to this one because it reminds me of the hope I have found in recovery!

The Mess Around is all about telling my former drinking buddies why I don’t drink anymore. Basically , get off my case, stop asking me to “just have one dude!” because I don’t mess around anymore.

The lyrics in the third verse really sum it all up:

“ I don't mess around anymore 'cuz I am finally free,
I don't need to impress you people, I can let it be,
And I don't need to escape and numb my feelings out,
I'm not afraid anymore, yo, you should check this out,
See there's a reason that you're here, just have to take the time,
Be willing, honest and sure to open up your mind,
And when you do, I think it's safe to say you're gonna find,
It's time to leave that mess behind, and time to shine.”

I am so thankful for all the songs on my Welcome To The Fellowship album. Each song chronicles a different aspect of my recovery. These songs were a way to get the pain out but they were also a way to express my hope and joy that was starting to come back into my life.

I still go back and listen to these songs quite often. They inspire me and remind me that I’m not alone on this journey. I am part of a “distinct entity” of folks in recovery and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this family.

I hope you know that you are never alone. You are surrounded by people who want to love you. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

And when you just don’t know what else to do, please don’t forget that music has the power to change your life. Find the music that speaks to you, turn it on and let it wash over you. Music has always shouted truth to me over all the lies rambling around in my brain.

It’s ready and waiting to do the same for you.



How To Overcome Doubt And Unbelief

Here are some old beliefs that are rattling around in my brain. Maybe you can relate to some of these.

  • If I’m not perfect, then I am going to hell

  • I can’t say my doubts out loud or God will condemn me

  • All of my sexual thoughts are sinful

  • I am a sinful piece of crap

  • God only loves me when I am doing good things

  • God is a man-made construct used to control people

We don’t know for sure if God is real or not. We have to choose to believe, which I do. But all the ways I see God working have logical explanations too.

I do choose to believe God is there and that He loves me and has a plan for me. But I still have a hard time with the details.

If there are so many religions in the world, how can Christianity be the only true one? If someone was born into a Hindu family, does that mean they are going to hell?

Was Jesus who He said He was, or did people writing the bible embellish the truth to spread their agenda? The Bible was written by people and people are flawed and selfish. So how can we possibly believe everything the Bible says to be fact?

What about homosexuality? I have friends who I really believe were created gay. That’s who they are. But the Bible says it’s a sin. What am I supposed to do with that?

Does God really look down on and condemn homosexuals after making them that way? Do gay people not deserve to be happy and have love in their life? Or are all the rules like that in the Bible written by people who wanted to set the rules. Maybe it says homosexuality is a sin because the dude who wrote that part was uncomfortable with gay people. There is no way to know for sure.

The problem is that people then take the Bible as law and use it to judge other people, to condemn and hate, to start wars and to make themselves feel superior.

That is a bunch of junk and I want no part of it.

I do know that I feel happier and more complete when I choose to see God working in my life. I have tried it the other way and it did not go so well. So I think the answer is to choose what you believe.

But just because you believe in God doesn’t mean you can never doubt again. It’s ok to have doubts and it’s important to think through them. If we just stuff them down, they become toxic. Say your doubts out loud. Talk to friends about them. And pray for God to help you find peace with them.

All I really want is truth. Isn’t that what we all want? But if we just choose to only see the one side of things we want to see and refuse to listen to anyone who disagrees, then we are not seeking truth. We are seeking validation for what our fears tell us to believe.

I want to live in truth and not in fear. I don’t want to run from my beliefs. I want to do the work, to have freedom to be honest about my feelings and to find peace with all this.

I want to be able to talk about my doubts and have real conversations. I want to be open to new ideas. I want to keep learning.

I want to have confidence in what I believe. I want to love myself and others right where we are today. I want to be a light in the world and a source of love and encouragement to others. And I want my God to want all those things too.

What do you think about all these questions? Do you have any doubts of your own? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

People Need People: The Role Of Community

I had a friend in college who always used to say “No man is an island.” I mean, he said it all the time. We used to make fun of him because he said it so much.

But even back then, we knew he was right. We knew that if we had to go through our college years alone, we would be miserable. We would probably drop out of college and move in to our favorite cardboard box.

There was no way we could do life without each other.

And then we grew up. My friends moved away. I started to believe that I didn’t need people. And the next thing you know, I am a 500-pound alcoholic living a miserable, lonely life.

What happened?

What happened is I moved to that island. Maybe not physically, but I moved there in my mind. After getting hurt once or twice, I decided I didn’t like that too much. I decided I was going to live with as little human interaction as possible. I mean, people were the problem, right?

If I just keep people away, I can focus on me. I can do whatever I need to do to be happy. I won’t get distracted by other people’s agendas. I can just focus on myself. That is what I thought my solution was. But I was wrong.

It turns out people weren’t the problem. They were actually the solution.

All this life of isolation brought me was extreme misery, depression and loneliness. It seems so obvious now, but I really couldn’t understand why I was so sad. I did everything I thought I was supposed to do to be happy.

I needed people. I needed people bad. And once I realized this, I started taking drastic actions. The first thing I did, and probably one of the best things I have ever done for myself, was I got a job at Applebee’s.

Now, this may not seem like the dream job, and for sure, it wasn’t, but what it was was a chance for me to meet people. Not only meet people, but bond with them.

If you have every worked in the service industry, you know it is hard work. And you are in the trenches with your fellow “Applebuddy’s” every day. There is a strong bond that is created with that.

And even though I quit that job years ago, I am still friends with a lot of those people to this day. That says a lot to me.

It says that I needed these people. And maybe they needed me too. We were all so hungry for connection and we found it at America’s favorite grill and bar.

If you are feeling isolated or depressed, I would challenge you to look at your community. Are you involved with others? Are you calling friends regularly? Are you going to neighborhood events? Are you talking to people at church after the service?

There are so many things we can do to bring people into our lives. I promise, your new friends are out there just waiting for you to say “hi.” That one simple word can change your life. It for sure changed mine.

And if all else fails, I know Applebee’s is always hiring.

Community
The new single from Chris Swan and Soul Motivation Records
Coming 7.1.19!

How To Find Your Self Worth

A big turning point in my life was when I asked myself:

“What if I just choose to believe in God? What if I choose to believe God is there and what if I just start to look for evidence of Him working in my life? What have I got to lose? I mean seriously, what’s the worst thing that would happen?”

I think I was scared of looking like a fool. Scared of people making fun of me. I felt like it was a waste of time to put energy into something that maybe didn’t exist. But the truth is, I was wasting my time trying to find another solution for God. I was wasting money paying for alcohol, food, girls, whatever it took to fill the void in my life. The void I felt was an absence of spiritual health. Whether you call Him God, the universe, or your higher power, I could feel that a big part of me was missing when I wasn’t connected to God. And trying to fill that void with other things was killing me. So the truth was, I couldn’t afford NOT to believe anymore.

Once I realized I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, I knew I had to make that change. I decided to believe and just have faith that God was there. And even more importantly, I decided to start looking for how He was working in my life. As soon as I chose to see it, it was abundantly obvious that He was working in my life.

I started a list of all the little “God things” that started happening. And as soon as I started seeing these things as God working in my life and not just coincidences, I quickly realized that God had been there all along. And even more, I realized how much I mattered! Because if almighty God is taking the time to work all kinds of miracles in my life, big and small, then He must love me a whole lot.

And if God loves me, who am I to not love myself?

How exciting it was to realize this! To know that God cares for me the way He does. God is providing all that I need. He is showing up in my life every day. It’s so amazing to see it! I know that I am supposed to be here and I know God has big plans for my life. That is huge. And I am so grateful that I can finally see that now! The evidence was there all along, all it took was me deciding to see it.

Why Am I Depressed?

Why am i depressed?

I have struggled with depression my whole life. I have had some really great years and I’ve also had some really dark years. But mostly my life has been a day to day combination of both.

When I joined Overeaters Anonymous and started working the 12 steps, I thought “Finally, I found my solution. Now I’ll never be depressed ever again!” Just typing that now makes me realize how silly that thought was, but I so desperately wanted to be free from this sadness that I believed there was a simple solution. All I had to do was fix it and I’m good, right?!

Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

I have been in the program for a little over a year now. It’s been amazing. I have learned so much and have really grown too. Yet, these last few days I have found myself struggling with depression again.

Why is this still happening? I am doing the work. I thought I fixed this!

The truth is there is no “fixing” it. There are things I can do in my daily life to deal with it. And I do believe over time it will get better, but I don’t think it ever goes away. It’s a part of me.

But here is the good news. I don’t have to deal with it alone anymore. I have a sponsor I can talk this stuff through with. I have my fellows that I can hang out with. And most of all, I can turn my sadness over to God and He comforts me. I’ve heard people say that my whole life but I only recently started to understand what that truly meant.

It means that I know I am loved. Unconditionally. It means it’s ok to feel my emotions. It’s ok to feel depressed. I don’t have to fix it. I can sit in it and feel it. Experience it instead of running away from it. And I know I can handle it because God is with me. Always.

I can be depressed and know that my life has a lot of worth because I am a creation of God. I can be depressed and know that God still has a plan for my life. I can be depressed and still see the joy around me. I can be depressed and know that I won’t feel like this forever.

With God all of these things are possible. And He has shown me time and time again that he will not fail me. He will not abandon me.

And that means I’m going to be ok.

Once I realize that, I can deal with the depression a lot better. It’s different now than it was in those dark years a long time ago. The difference is God. And God is good.

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately: “How do people do life without God?” I really don’t know. I know when I tried, it did not work. I know that I am grateful to have found God again and to have Him to turn to. I can’t imagine doing life any other way.

The Power Of Belief

“If I want to achieve then I gotta believe.”

There was a very specific, pivotal moment in my life. It wasn’t a wedding day or a graduation day, it was the day I decided to believe again. Not just believing in God, but believing in possibilities. Choosing hope over cynicism.

Somewhere along the path of life, I became extremely cynical. I think it happens to a lot of us.

When we are kids, the world is a magical place. Every day is an adventure full of wonder and joy. This is why kids never want to go to bed and can’t wait to get up in the morning. Their life is awesome and exciting.

And then we grow up. We get hurt a few times. And it all starts to change.

Fast forward a few years and we are miserable. We see the world as a dark, depressing place. We are trapped in a routine that never changes. There is nothing new to explore. No more adventures. No more excitement. Just work, bills and taxes.

Maybe we get out and do something fun on the weekend, but it’s short-lived and we are right back to our mundane existence on Monday.

This is when bitterness sets in. What happened to our life? We used to have dreams and goals. When did it all change? Why do we all of the sudden dread everything we have to do?

And that’s when it happens. That’s the day you become a cynic.

After crossing over to the dark side, there is no more hope. There is no more wonder. And any beliefs you had about the possibilities in your life, go right out the window. We start looking at the world as a curse instead of a blessing.

We make fun of people who look happy. We tell ourselves that people who have the kind of life we want just got lucky and we are not meant to have that kind of life. Nope. We are meant to be fat. Broke. Lonely. And depressed. That’s just the way it is for people like us.

What if you just decided to change that way of thinking? Right now. Right here.

What if you chose to believe? What if it is really true that our lives are a manifestation of our thoughts and if you changed your thoughts you could change your life? What is the worse thing that would happen if you just decided that you were going to believe in life again like you did when you were a kid?

That was the pivotal moment in my life. The day everything changed for me was the day I asked myself those exact questions. And I chose to go for it.

I decided to believe again.

Once I made that decision, I also had to keep my eyes and heart open to see the opportunities in my life. I had to fight off cynicism constantly and look for the good stuff. I had to stop making excuses and stop making fun of happy people. I had to try. I had to get up and do something. But if there was real hope on the other side, it would be totally worth it.

I can tell you now that there is and it was.

I started seeing doors opening. I started seeing different people coming into my life. I started having successes in ways I never thought possible.

Was life perfect and easy from then on? Of course not. But something was different. Things were actually happening. And the best part of it all was I started to get excited again. I started to have moments where I felt like a little kid. I had dreams and I believed that they were possible. I had a reason to get up in the morning.

I was finally living the life I always wanted. All I had to do was choose it.

Life sucks sometimes. There are plenty of people who will tell you that. And it’s true. But I’m here to tell you that there is a whole other side to life that is just waiting for you. You are meant to be happy. You are meant to be successful Your “luck” is just waiting for you to find it. I promise it’s there.

All you have to do is choose to believe.

Believe
The new single from Chris Swan and Soul Motivation Records
Coming 5.1.19!

AA Without God?

AA Without God?

When I joined OA, the whole “God thing” was a big hang up for me. It kept me from going to AA meetings when I quit drinking years before. I didn’t want someone to tell me to pray more and read the Bible and I’ll be fine. I needed real life solutions to my problems.

The problem with that is it made me bitter and closed off. I wasn’t open to any spiritual discussion because I was so determined to say that a lack of God wasn’t my problem. I was determined to prove I was right. When we are bitter and closed off, we can’t heal. And what I needed more than anything was healing.

Being able to say I was powerless and that there has to be some bigger power at work allowed me to open up and see those real world solutions I had been searching for my whole life. They were always there. All around me. I just couldn’t see them because I had closed my eyes and refused to believe they were there.

I know the whole “God thing” is a big hang up for a lot of people in recovery. It keeps a lot of people away. We cling to our belief of non-belief scared that someone will take it away from us and we will be left with nothing to hold on to. That is a scary thought. But, the truth is, by holding on so tightly to a belief of non-belief, we are missing the whole point.

Don’t bring your personal development and spiritual health to a halt out of fear and selfishness. Open your mind and your heart and I promise you will find the answers you are looking for.

What Is Success In Life?

I have been struggling lately a lot with how I define success. I find myself getting caught up in comparing myself to others. I feel envious whenever I see someone who has more money than I do or has more fans than I do.

I get jealous. But then I also get down on myself. I feel like a failure because I am not measuring up to the person that has a million followers on Instagram. I set these impossible standards for myself and if I don’t reach them, then I have failed. And therefore by definition, I am not succeeding at life.

Just thinking through this and writing it down already shines a light on what is wrong with this thinking. But I still can’t help it sometimes. I feel like if I am not the best, then I am not successful. And that is a recipe for disaster because there will always be someone with more money and more Instagram followers.

That is a game I can never win.

So what does true success look like? Success doesn’t come from others. My success does not depend upon approval from anyone. I don’t have to compare myself to other people. None of that matters.

The only thing that matters is my health - physical, emotional, and spiritual.

With that in mind, I would define success as spiritual progression. Doing a little better today than yesterday is success. Learning to love and accept myself more is success. Spending more time serving others is success.

The truth is I am already successful because I am showing up every day. I am working on myself, sticking to my program and trusting God to lead the way. I am learning more about myself and others each day.

That is success.

I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be better than anyone else. I only have to be me. I am perfect the way I am because God created me this way. I have the exact amount of Instagram followers I am supposed to have right now. I have all the money that I need and I have an amazing perfect number of fans who love what I do. Everything is as it is supposed to be right now. And I will continue to grow each day.

The truth is I am who God wants me to be today and if that's not success, then I don’t know what is.

Serving Others

“All of me should be serving you”

This year I am putting out a new single every month. Each single represents one of the 12 core principles I believe are the key to a happy and fulfilled life. The first principle was Abundance, the second was Gratitude, third Acceptance and now comes the fourth - Serve.

I have spent a lot of years of my life being extremely selfish. I would spend my days just trying to make myself happy. I was all in my head, making every little thing all about me. I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working.

If I was spending so much time trying to figure how to be happy, why was I still so miserable?

That is where the fourth principle comes in. A life lived only serving ourselves is always going to come up short. We end up feeling lonely, inadequate, frustrated and exhausted. It just doesn’t work. The true path to happiness has to include serving others.

When we serve others, we get outside of our heads. We focus on someone else and take our minds off of our own problems. It gives us freedom from the stresses of life as we spend time working on another’s problems.

It helps us connect with one another and realize we are not alone. It helps us feel understood. We are all brothers and sisters and connected on a deep, spiritual level. The only way to experience that feeling is to spend time together.

Serving others brings us satisfaction in knowing we are useful. It reminds us that we matter. The world needs us and every time we serve another, we are shown how much that is true. We each possess very specific skills that we can use to help others. It is our duty to get out there and use those skills.

Serving others shows us how much we can truly affect our surroundings. Helping someone in a small way can send a huge ripple effect out into the world. If you open a door for someone and ask how their day is going, you put a smile on that person’s face and lift their spirits. That makes them want to do something nice for the next person. And then that person goes out does something for another and on and on it goes.

Serving another can actually change the world. Isn’t that amazing?

Serving others makes us feel good. It’s the combination of all these things that brings us joy and peace. It puts our problems in perspective and reminds us how much we have to live for. Serving is a way to change the world, yes. But it is also a way to change OUR own world.

I hope on April 1st, 2019 you will take a listen to my new single Serve. I think it will remind you how important this principle is to all of us and it might just inspire you to start a ripple of your own!

One Day At A Time

One day at a time

Sometimes I get extremely overwhelmed thinking about the future, especially when it comes to staying sober and abstinent. I still struggle with the idea that I will never get to drink or eat certain foods again. It seems like an impossible task. It also seems incredibly unfair.

I can keep going down that rabbit hole of a thought process and land on it’s not healthy to never enjoy certain foods again. And believe me, you can find plenty of people who would agree with that. They would say cutting things out completely is too drastic and not sustainable. What you need to do is learn moderation?

That is when I start to laugh because I have tried moderation time and time again. It may work for some people, but it does not work for me. As a matter of fact, moderation makes things worse for me because it keeps the cravings alive. Every time I have tried to indulge a little here and there, I would end up binging in no time.

I know abstinence is my ticket to freedom. But I don’t have to spend my time thinking about how I will never get to drink or eat certain foods again. All I have to do is stay sober and abstinent today. 24 hours. I know that my day today and my day tomorrow are going to be a million times better if I stay sober and abstinent today.

So I’m going to do that.

Even more, I am excited to do it because I have finally found a way to live the life I have always wanted. I have real purpose in my life. I get up every day with a drive and a focus that I never had when I was drinking or in the food. I sleep better and I wake up every morning with energy and vigor that I never had. I have so much love in my life, it’s ridiculous. And the truth is, I always had it, but now I am allowing myself to see it and feel it. And it feels amazing!

I am choosing to work my program today because it is working. I don’t have to worry about the future. I don’t have to say that I’m never going to drink again or I’m never going to eat ice cream again. I’m not concerned with a day that hasn’t even happened yet. My only concern is this day and what I need to do to make it great.

And when I lay my head down on that pillow tonight, I will have peace knowing that I lived another day in victory. I was able to live the day of my dreams because I was sober and abstinent. I know I can do this today and that is all I need.

The Answer To All Of My Problems

The answer to all of my problems

“All of my problems come from trying to fix situations.”

I make myself miserable. Every single day of my life. For so long, I couldn’t figure it out. Why am I so unhappy?

Even after I joined OA and began my recovery life, I was still struggling. I still struggle to this day. But recently I have started noticing a pattern.

When I am feeling miserable, it is usually because I am trying to control or change a situation.

When someone is saying something I don’t like, I get mad because they are the way they are. I don’t want them to be that way. I want them to be the way I want them to be. If I have do something I don’t want to do, I get mad. It’s unfair that I have to do that thing. I feel miserable because I want to change the situation.

I spend all of my emotional energy worrying about that person I can’t change or the situation I am unhappy with. I’ll stress about it all day. Go over it again and again in my head. Until I am exhausted and depleted. And I have no more fight in me. A lot of days I am tapped out by noon.

“I always think that changing things will change my elevation.”

I get so mad because I am trying to control someone or something that I have no control over. It is complete insanity. An impossible situation. I torture myself continually, thinking eventually I will get what I want. But usually I don’t and that leads to resentment.

There is an answer to this problem. And I found in the AA Acceptance prayer. It goes like this:

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

That’s the answer. Acceptance. All I have to do is accept the other person for who they are or accept the situation I’m in. I don’t have to change anybody or anything. Matter of fact, I can’t. I can only change myself and my attitudes toward other people or hard situations. That is something I can DO.

I can ask God to remove my fear. To give me strength and to help me accept the situation I’m in. I can give it to Him and truly let go. Do you know how amazing that is?! I can be free. I don’t have to be miserable every day.

I’ve been trying so hard to change everybody else when all I had to do was work on me. That is something I can work with. And that gives me hope.

“Acceptance is the key to my ongoing freedom.”

Acceptance is the third principle in my 12 core principles that offer freedom from depression and anxiety. I am releasing a new single every month this year that features one of the 12 core principles. On March 1st, 2019, I will be releasing my new single “Acceptance.” It is based on the AA Acceptance prayer and I hope you will find freedom in this song!

Acceptance: The Story Behind The Song

Hit play to hear what inspired my song Acceptance and what I hope you get out of it.  And be sure to share this video with those who you think need to hear it!

One Is Never Enough

One Is Never Enough

I am not like other people. I can’t do some of the things that other people can do. This is just a fact that I need to accept.

I can’t have one drink because one is never enough for me. I could never understand how people did that. If someone asked me to go “have a drink,” to me that meant we are going to get hammered! I would be 5 in and notice others just sipping on their first.

What is wrong with these people? Let’s do this!

Next thing you know I’m ordering shots for everyone to get them “caught up.” I thought I was the normal one. But it turns out I was wrong. Normal people like to have a drink, chat a little and then go home to their normal life. I have never been able to do that. I have never wanted to.

I can’t have an occasional treat, like ice cream or cake, because one treat leads to twenty. As soon as I get a taste, the sugar takes over and my cravings kick in. I may just have the one in front of present company, but then when I’m alone later, I am at the grocery story buying a quart of ice cream with hot fudge. I then proceed to spend the rest of my evening eating as much as I can until I get sick. You would think, then, that I had learned my lesson?

But no.

By the next day, I would be at it again. More ice cream. More hot fudge. More shame and guilt. I don’t understand how people can just have a piece of cake at a party and then be good for a while. That was never me. One was never enough. One was just a tease.

It may seem unfair at first that I am not normal. I have had my days of feeling sorry for myself. But the truth is it is a blessing to understand this about myself and to accept it because now I can stop trying to be like other people. Now I can stop getting mad at myself for not being able to “control myself” like other people seem to be able to do. I can stop beating myself up and focus on what I CAN do.

I get to eat delicious food every day that makes me feel great. I get to be free from the cycle of addiction and the mental obsession that takes over. I get to be free from cravings and I get to enjoy being clear headed and sober.

This life is awesome and although I may not be like other people, I am not alone. There is an army of us marching together. A “distinct entity” walking shoulder to shoulder and we are exactly the people we are supposed to be.

The Isolation Of Addiction

For me, drinking always starts as a social thing but then ends as an isolation tool. Drinking in high school was always about being at the party, trying to hook up with some girl. It was about friends and rebelling against our parents. It was fun and exciting.

But at the end of my drinking career, it became about getting away from people and being alone. That way I could drink as much as I wanted and as long as I wanted without judgement. I also didn’t have to pretend that I cared about the people around me because when I was getting drunk, it was all about me. It was purely for my pleasure and had nothing to do with the people around me. They just got in the way.

Even when I was around others, I couldn’t wait to be alone. I could care less about the party that use to be the best part. That’s when I knew something had changed. All I wanted to do was be alone with my drink and my food. Pretty soon the excitement was gone and it wasn’t fun anymore.

That is the progressiveness of my illness of addiction. It always starts out fun and ends up in misery. I can’t just have a few drinks to be social. I have to take it to the extreme. And the extreme is me, alone in a room, drinking more and more just trying to keep the party going a little longer. I could never drink enough. I could never eat enough. In the end, I was still sad and alone. All the drink and food did was add a hangover to the mess.

A life of drinking and overeating just isn’t a real answer. It isn’t sustainable. It may start out as fun, but it’s a lie. It may feel like a social lubricant at first, but for people like me, it always turns into a way to isolate. It promises comfort and joy, but it really brings sadness and pain.

I know now that I like to be alone. I get recharged by spending time on my own. And that’s ok. But I need to remember that I need people too. I am not meant to be isolated from the world. And I don’t want to be anymore because all that led to was extreme loneliness and sadness.

So I’m going to choose people over addiction today. I’ll see how that goes. And I have a feeling I will want to choose people again tomorrow.

Things Addicts Say To Justify...

Thinks Addicts Say To Justify...

Whatever your drug of choice is, we all have used the same excuses to justify using again.

To celebrate my 3 year anniversary of being sober, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the excuses I used to use to justify having that first drink. There are many times I would go 6-8 months without drinking and then start thinking some of the following things. And once I gave in and had that first drink, it was all over. The addiction cycle began all over again and I was in hell.

Here are a list of some of my excuses. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • I deserve this. I’ve gone so long now without a drink. I deserve a reward.

  • Everyone else gets to drink. Why can’t I?

  • There’s no way I’m never going to drink again so I might as well just do it.

  • I need to just drink less this time.

  • I can control it now. I just needed a break.

  • I’ll just drink on gigs.

  • I’ll just drink at home.

  • I’ll just drink 1-2 times a week.

  • I want to get drunk.

  • It’s fun to get buzzed.

  • I never do anything fun anymore. I deserve to have fun.

  • Getting drunk sounds fun

  • My life sucks. I just want to drink.

  • Drinking will make me feel better.

  • It will be different this time.

  • I’ll just have one day of drinking and then get back to work on being sober and healthy.

  • I want to be part of the party.

  • It’s unfair that I don’t get to drink.

  • I miss the old days.

  • I think it’s time for a drink.

  • I’ve been sober long enough to prove that I don’t have a problem.

Every time I had one of these thoughts and then gave in, I would be back into the misery of addiction in days or weeks tops. These were all lies and excuses that led me back to that hell. If you find yourself saying these things to yourself, know that you are not alone. We all have these thoughts. But I have given in enough to know that they lead to an awful life.

All these thoughts are just our disease trying to bring us back. They are lies. And we don’t live in lies anymore. We live in truth. The truth is we deserve to be free. And freedom comes from letting those thoughts go and celebrating another day of sobriety.

Happy sobriety day to anyone who has a day, a week, a year or a decade sober!

Gratitude: The Story Behind The Song

Hit play to hear what inspired my song Gratitude and what I hope you get out of it.  And be sure to share this video with those who you think need to hear it!

Addiction Panic

I am an alcoholic and a food addict. I also have an anxiety disorder. My days of addiction were filled with panic attacks. I use to get them almost daily. Fear would grip my entire body. I felt like I was dying or I was going to have a seizure.

I would be so scared for my life in these moments and knew I had to quit drinking and overeating. I knew my bad habits were playing a big role in triggering these panic attacks. But then, when I would consider walking away from my addictions, the panic of not having my only comforts would kick in. It was a catch 22. Damned if I did. Damned if I didn’t.

Can I survive a life of continuing to get my fixes every day? But then, how would I survive without them?

Talk about insanity. I was stuck in the middle of these two choices for years and years. Both with food and alcohol. I remember being in a constant panic. If I didn’t get my fix, how would I survive? What would I have to look forward to every day? And this want became a real need. I needed the food and alcohol to survive and have any joy at all.

I felt trapped and unable to make a move. And this would cause endless bouts of depression and anxiety. It was a scary way to live my life.

Thank God He pulled me out when He did. He showed me it was possible to have joy without my indulgences. Matter of fact, the joy I experience now is real and lasting. And best of all, it has no side effects. I don’t have to suffer through days of hangovers just to get a few hours of fun in my life. I don’t have to spend my days feeling bloated and winded just so I could have a few hours of fun with food.

But the best part is the panic attacks are pretty much gone. I still may have a moment of panic here and there, but I now know how to deal with it. I can call on God to give me strength. I can reach out to my fellows for encouragement. I am not alone. And I am not relying on a deadly substance to get me through the day. The constant panic has been replaced by serenity and freedom.

I am finally free from this insanity and panic. And this freedom came from working the 12 steps of OA. I never want to go back to that life. And I can say honestly today that I will do whatever it takes to stay on this path of recovery and freedom from the panic that used to rule my life.

The Benefits Of Gratitude

“Talk about life as a miserable existence, that was me before I started to change.”

For years, most of my adult life for sure, misery was my constant companion. That’s a poetic way to say my life sucked. Or at least I thought it sucked. And since I thought my life sucked, well, it did.

I use to be so focused on everything that was wrong in my life. I was fat. I was lonely. I was broke. I was depressed. And all I could think about was how miserable I was. Every morning, the first thought that came into my head was “Ugh.” Usually followed by a few choice cuss words. I would sleep in as long as I could because I was dreading my day. It was going to be full of stuff I didn’t want to do, more loneliness, more disappointment. Life had become a chore with no joy in it.

Looking back now, it’s no mystery as to why I was so miserable. All I wanted to see was the negative. All the people I hung out with could only see the negative. I was surrounded by hopelessness, inside and out, so how are you suppose to want to get out of bed when that’s all you have to look forward to?!

The crazy part is, my life was amazing. I had so much love, respect and opportunity in my life. I just couldn’t see it through all the “depression fog.” I saw what I wanted to see and I became who I wanted to become.

Fat. Lonely. Broke. Depressed.

It got bad. Really bad. I even became suicidal for a while. I knew I had two options - give up or figure out how to be happy.

Thankfully I chose the second.

I began a quest of discovery. How do happy people do it? What is the difference between their life and mine? And how can I find happiness?

There were many answers that I discovered and I am going to be sharing them with you over the course of this year. But one of the biggest and most obvious was GRATITUDE.

I found out that a lot of happy people are happy because they CHOOSE to be. It doesn’t just happen. They choose to focus on the awesome things in their life. Even when times are hard, they choose to see the good. And when you choose to see the good stuff, then you start to feel good. And good things seem to “start” happening to you. The truth is there has always been good things happening to you, you just couldn’t see them.

This is the year of change. Every month this year I am going to release a new song that deals with a different aspect of overcoming negativity and finding true happiness. It’s all part of the 12 Core Principles I have found to be the cure for depression and the path to a happy life!

The first principle is Abundance and it was my single that came out on January 1st. If you want to read more about this core value, you can do so by checking out my blog post “Why Am I Always Broke?

The second principle is Gratitude and the single comes out February 1st.

So get ready for big changes this year. These 12 Core Principles will change your life, just like they have changed mine if you choose to embrace them and practice them every day. Everything we want is right in front of us, we just have to choose to see it!

Abundance: The Story Behind The Song

Hit play to hear what inspired my song Abundance and what I hope you get out of it.  And be sure to share this video with those who you think need to hear it!