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H2

Today the temperature dropped to 36 degrees. It’s rainy and windy outside. At work I saw my homeless coworker. I asked him how he’s maintaining outside in the elements. Apparently management or someone threw away his blanket.

I hope that’s not the case, but I wouldn’t put it past them. They had informed H in the past that if they caught him sleeping outside the restaurant they would call the police. He still does it. He doesn’t have much choice.

I see him struggling and I can’t help but feel compassion towards him. Many of the employees ridicule him. They call him names. One time the managers posted a sign by where he was sleeping that said “Air BnB $50/night”. Everyone had a good laugh. Not me though.

I guess I know a little too well what he’s going through. I know how hard it is to maintain when you’re homeless. It’s pretty sad that people can be so cruel to someone so close to them. Someone they interact with on a near-daily basis. Sure he can be abrasive. A little rough around the edges. But why kick someone when they’re down?

When I heard that he was going to be sleeping outside in near freezing temperatures, I had to do something. I considered getting him a hotel room. I ended up bringing him a large bag with blankets, clothes, and food. He was extremely appreciative. It was the least I could do. I would have felt terrible if he froze to death. A real possibility with temperatures dropping.

He told me he is saving up for an apartment. That it’ll be ready in the middle of November. I tried encouraging him. Do the little things to help him. Lift his spirit. He does have substance issues. I know there is only so much I can do. I pray that he gets a chance to turn things around.

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House politics

Over the past few days there has been some drama going on in the house. Apparently some members are not getting along well with each other. I heard about things through secondhand information. I could have gotten in the middle of things. I chose to stand on the sidelines for now. Whatever needs to be straightened out can be done in a house meeting. Democratically. Via due process. Like it or not, house politics are inevitable.

I’d like to think I’m assertive when it comes to house issues. Balanced. Reasonable. What I don’t like is the behind the back gossip. Character assassinations. Case-building. It feels wrong. It’s part of living in Oxford House. But I try to avoid it as much as possible. Avoiding the drama helps me stay in a peaceful state.

I also realize nothing good comes out of talking crap. I understand the need to process things. To clear the air. But some of the members make a habit out of it. Bringing up things behind closed doors. Making a plan of action on how to confront somebody. How to punish someone. Even get someone kicked out. It all feels so petty. Yet I find myself talking about the ones talking sometimes.

It takes a concerted effort to step aside. Even when people are talking bad about someone else. I need to keep my mouth shut. Maybe listen. Even more, it’s important for me to lend credence to both sides of the story. I know that no person is all the way at fault.

I know that everyone is doing their best for the most part. Even if they are slipping, I owe it to the person and myself to examine both sides of the story. To shine a positive light on an individual getting bashed in the dark. Even the ones who are creating the drama. They’re doing what they feel is right. I can see that they just want to have an orderly house. I don’t agree with the methods. But I can appreciate their intentions.

I know it’s not easy. I get called “soft” at times. I get it. When people are fanning the flames of frustration and bitterness, showing compassion and understanding is looked down upon. But if speaking up for others who are getting ganged up on is soft, I’ll take it.

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D

D came to work yesterday with bandages wrapped around both his arms. When I asked him what happened, he responded “Crazy A– White B–“. He eventually went on to tell me that he did it to himself. That he had a big falling out with his girlfriend. He wanted to end his life.

I tried to encourage him as best I could. I know things like that can be tough. I’ve got love for you. I’m praying for you. D’s a good kid. Just stuck in a unmanageable situation. Relationship drama. Homeless and sleeping in his car. Substance issues.

He told me he needed to get back into NA. Whenever you’re ready, I’m here. I’ll go with you to a meeting. If you get serious about recovery let me know. I can find you resources and affordable housing.

The next day he came into work high. I know I can only do so much. Inevitably it is his decision. Only he can decide when he has had enough. Maybe he hasn’t hit rock bottom. Everyone’s bottom looks different. But I can make myself available.

I know there is more to life than the cycle of despair. Recovery is not easy. But it’s a beautiful, fulfilling process. I share my view to anyone who is interested to hear. That’s all I can do. I pray that D comes around. Before it gets too late.

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Things are fine

I was food runner tonight at work. Meaning I was going to be running people’s food all night. No waiting tables.

Food running is not what I wanted to be doing on a Friday night. Basically running around all night. Working for free essentially. It is up to the individual servers to tip out the food runner. But it ends up being less than minimum wage. If I’m lucky. Many servers opt to keep the money for themselves.

I knew I would be working this shift for a while now. I mentally prepared for it. Don’t expect any money. Be grateful for whatever I get. It’s only one shift. But the negative thoughts did creep in. Why did they pick me to be food runner? It’s for the newbies. I’m a closer. What a waste of time. I’m losing out on two hundred dollars. These selfish servers aren’t gonna tip me out. *resentment setting in*

I tried block out the thoughts. Tried to have a good attitude all night. I think I mostly succeeded. I got home at a moderate hour. That’s a plus. I got a free meal. That’s nice. My feet aren’t sore. All good things.

While I would’ve liked to make more money, I’m not hurting right now. My finances are in pretty good order. I have all my needs met. I know this won’t happen all the time. If this is the worst thing to happen this week then I’m in pretty good shape.

At the end of the day, this type of situation is not a big deal. Yes, it’s not ideal. But there’s no way that I will lose peace over it. Maybe the old me would’ve held onto things. I also realize the old me wants to jump out and berate the servers for not tipping out. Not today. My reward is in heaven.

I know that God is the great equalizer. If I let it go, give it to Him, He will bless me. Whether it’s financially or not remains to be seen. But I will be just fine.

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A walk in the park

Today was a great day. I met up with my wife and son in the afternoon. My son had a soccer practice at a park. My wife has been working out consistently for the past month. She usually goes for a run during his practices.

We ended up going on a long walk. It was a beautiful day. Walked for over an hour. Over three miles. It didn’t feel that long or that far. We were deep in conversation the whole time. Talked about current events, faith, life in general. I’ve sorely missed having our long “chitchats”.

It was the type of thing that we hardly had a chance to do in the past. We always talked about working out together. It never really worked out. Today’s walk wasn’t quite planned. But it was one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had with the person I love the most. Doing something as simple as walking in the park. Can’t get much better than that.

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Blank slate

Today I had nothing on my agenda. While I spent the first part of the day reading and playing basketball, I felt like the rest of the day was not well spent. Watching TV. Surfing the internet. Eating. Consuming.

I felt a soul-sucking feeling through it all. Drained. Numb.

There are so many better ways to spend my time. It feels like when I have nothing on my plate I let myself get consumed by fruitless diversions. While I didn’t do anything that was explicitly destructive, I didn’t do much of anything productive either.

I also know it’s not good to beat myself up for wasting my day. But it’s important for me to acknowledge it. I know what it feels like. Next time I can go work out. Go for a walk. Attend an in-person 12 step meeting. Play some musical instruments. Do some crafting. Make a website for myself. Work on writing a book. Anything besides sitting in front of a screen and eating junk food.

Tomorrow is another day off. An empty slate as well. It doesn’t have to be an empty day as well. I know what steps I can take to seize the day.

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God is there

I was driving back home from spending a couple precious hours with my wife and son. I feel like these drives are always filled with reflection. Emotion. A mix of feelings.

It’s always hard leaving them. It’s like I get a taste of what life used to be like. Of what life could be like. Of what it should be like. And then it’s taken away. For a few fleeting moments it feels like I’m finally home. But only for a moment. Then the sobering reality hits. The realization that I’m not there yet. That I’m separated from the ones of I love the most.

Then the drive home. Sixty miles. It’s usually a lonely hour. Today was my birthday. Making it even lonelier. I typically spend the time listening to hymns and Christian songs. Singing along to the words. Sometimes it lifts me up. At times it moves me to tears.

May His presence go before you/And behind you, and beside you/All around you, and within you/He is with you, He is with you

As lonely as I felt, I could feel God’s presence. Driving on the highway. The glowing sunset on the horizon. Tears lining my face.

In the morning, in the evening/In your coming, and your going/In your weeping, and rejoicing/He is for you, He is for you

Even on days when I feel lost, God is for me.

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Birthday thoughts

Lonely Bday uploaded by Blacklillium on We Heart It

At the time of this writing it is my birthday. 35 years old. In some ways I don’t feel that old. In other ways I feel older.

Mostly because I look young, I feel young. I feel like I can still relate to young people. The twenty year olds at my job and at my house still consider me their peer. Not as the old fart that is almost old enough to be their dad.

At the same time I’ve lived through a lot. Even for someone my age. I suppose I have gained some knowledge about things. Some wisdom. A near-death experience and a life of peaks and valleys does that to a person.

In many ways I’m not where I thought I’d be at age 35. I know comparison is the thief of joy. But it’s hard not to compare. Most of the people I went to high school and college are highly successful. Doctors. Lawyers. Wall Street bankers. Decorated professionals. Some are public figures. I don’t think I expected to be a waiter living in a halfway house.

Halfway. If a person’s average life expectancy is roughly 70 years old, I’m at the halfway point. I understand that people are living older. But I also know that living to that age isn’t guaranteed either. I know that I cheated death once. Yes, nothing in life is guaranteed after all.

I once thought it was guaranteed that I’d live a life on a certain trajectory. High School. College. Nice paying job. Marriage. House. Kids. Rewarding career. Self-actualization. I’ve had some of these. I’ve had a few glimpses. But I’m not there today. I don’t feel like I’ve ever lived to my potential. Nor am I living my “best life”. My life took a different trajectory. And for that, I feel regret sometimes.

Still, I know that I’m not where I was one year ago. On October 20, 2019 I was in a jail cell. Just stopped having to use a walker. Sharing a “pizza” made of ramen noodles, chili from a bag, pork skins, and squeeze cheese. My friend bought a honey bun, a Snickers bar, a pack of M&M’s, and peanut butter wafers. He combined the ingredients to make a “cake”. My sister’s in-laws and my parents sent me some money on my commissary account. I had planned to buy a chess set. It was $8. I decided to save the money to have enough for ramen in the future. I bought a pack of playing cards instead. All things considered, it was a good birthday.

Today I am in the free world. I am physically healthy. I have a relationship with the people I love the most. I live in a comfortable house with a good bunch of guys. I have a decent paying job that is easy enough and enjoyable at times. I have a reliable car. I have a moderate bank account. I have all my material needs taken care of.

Most importantly, I have my recovery. I have God. I am on a new trajectory. I’m not where I once was. This new path has both peace and promise. While I sometimes feel like a failure, I also feel part of something bigger than myself.

I know I am a part of God’s plan. Like the first thirty-five years of my life has been setting the stage for something greater. Perhaps I went through hell so I could one day help lead others out of it. I hold onto this vision. I do what I can in my little sphere and I pray for the right opportunities to come along.

Upon reflection, it took a lot to get to this point. There are warring perspectives within me. Regret. Hope. Disappointment. Faith. At the end of the day, I’m choosing to look back at my life, especially this past year, with gratitude.

God, thank you for another year on this earth. I know that nothing is promised. But there is promise in living according to your will.

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Change in routine

It has been a few days since I’ve been able to read my Bible in the morning. When I stayed over with my dad for a few nights, I left it at home. For a couple of days I broke my morning routine. The last couple of days I read my morning devotionals but didn’t get into my Bible. I had to be at work in the morning. Didn’t give myself enough to time.

Maybe it’s because I’m in Exodus. It’s near the end of the book. Getting into details about the tabernacle and the ark. Not exactly the most practical reading. So I decided to skip it for a few days. I regret it now.

Looking back over the past few days, I do feel a bit off. Not off-off in a crisis type of way. But I can notice a subtle difference. Devoting the first part of my day to God is important to me. It allows me the opportunity to start the day off right. Gives me the peace I need to carry on through the day.

The best way I can describe it is like a fog. A light fog. Just barely perceptible. But I know what real peace feels like.

Tomorrow I have a free morning. I’m looking forward to resetting things. Getting back into my routine again. Feeling that sense of peace. The peace that comes from reading God’s word.

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Home remedies

A long double shift. But it was manageable for most of the day. Was able to take some short breathers. In between shifts I actually had an hour break. I drove straight home. Took a power nap.

When I clocked back in I felt refreshed. Energized. Just from kicking back for forty minutes. It made a world of difference.

When I got home my feet and knees were pretty sore. It usually works that way during double shifts. 20,000+ steps. In the shower I ran some hot water on my soles and knees. Massaged them a bit. When I got out a rubbed some natural muscle cream.

Working as a server can be grueling. But usually it’s worth it. If I’m busting my tail I usually do pretty well. It does however takes a toll on my body. But I know what it takes to remedy things.