your stories

With Vigilance: Christine Campbell's Story

A few weeks ago, when The Sobriety Collective was still an infant (we're now in official "TOT" status), Christine reached out to me to share her e-book: With Vigilance - A Woman in Long Term Recovery.  I'll just let Christine take it away with her self-written bio.

I am a recently retired mental health practitioner.  I worked the mean streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul for years.  I am back home in Northern Michigan loving the peace, the quiet and the ability to write. I am passionate about many things, one is the continued stigma of alcoholics and addicts, especially women. I continue to do service work, enjoy my life, simplicity and peace.  

I survived the 70's & 80's!! (Wasn’t that nuts??!!)

The definition of stigma is 'a distinguishing mark of social disgrace'.  I read many articles that state 'who would take a stand and admit this and try to change things?' Me it looks like! I am not known for being timid in any way. I have fought, lectured, presented and now written about this ongoing epidemic and stigma. Solution is possible.  We are warriors! Those who have recovered and those still struggling can recover, laugh, parent and be more than anyone thought possible. Life is precious and a gift! You are not alone!

**

Read the first 10% of Christine's book here. Link to buy within.
follow Christine on
Twitter: @christi14228960

Mishka Shubaly

Where do I even begin with this guy?  I'm not sure how I heard of Mishka (dude--after all this time, I don't even know how the hell to pronounce your last name.  Shoe-buh-lee?)  But I did, and I found myself reading one of his Amazon Kindle singles on the plane trip home from Southern Cali (I miss you, California) in late 2013. 

All I could think was *Is this guy's writing playing the staring game with my soul?  'Cuz he gets me.*  

We became Facebook"friends" and Twitter"followers."  He's a damn busy guy--I mean, he's a SOBER modern-day renaissance man--writer, runner, musician, soon-to-be professor--so I'm honored and grateful and all that jazz (seriously!) that he's supporting my endeavors with the collective.  So, without further adieu, I give you, Sir Mishka's post he wrote for his website almost a year ago (reprinted with his permission, obvi).  Scroll down to the bottom (NOT UNTIL YOU FINISH READING THE BRILLIANCE BELOW) for an update on his life.

**

Five Years Sober

29 May 2014

'Twas the night before Mishka quit drinking...

'Twas the night before Mishka quit drinking...

I’m celebrating five years sober today.

The above picture was taken just before I quit drinking. I was at the end of a UK tour with Freshkills. I remember that I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open when this picture was taken, but I can’t recall much else.

In 2009, I lived in a run-down apartment right next to the BQE.

I drove a crappy little maroon Dodge Neon that was falling apart. I had bags under my eyes and a paunch. I had nothing resembling a real job or a steady income. My primary sources of income were working door at Piano’s one night a week (11pm to 4am from Saturday night to Sunday morning, not a particularly fun shift) and working off Craig’s List. I played in three bands: Freshkills, RIBS and Rumanian Buck.

I was comfortable in the knowledge that I had failed as a writer.

And now? I live in the same run-down apartment right next to the BQE.

I drive a crappy little maroon minivan that is falling apart. I have bags under my eyes and a paunch. I have nothing resembling a real job or a steady income.

And everything else is radically transformed. I haven’t had a job since 2011 because I haven’t had to. I own a little house in California.

It’s not just that I started writing again, I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams and became a bestselling author.  I still don’t write every day because I have shitty work habits, but I ought to write every day because people are actually waiting for works I’ve promised them.

My body looks almost exactly the same as it did when I quit drinking, but I know it’s different inside.

I can run. I didn’t just run a marathon, I ran a bunch of marathons, I ran marathons as training runs, I ran 2 marathons back-to-back, I ran a bunch of ultramarathons, the longest of which was 62 miles. It’s impossible to deny it: I’ve come a long way. And I have a long way to go.

I loved all three of the bands I played in in 2009, all three broke up, and all three broke up because of me.

Yeah, I’m sober and I have a pretty decent handle on the whole “not drinking” thing, but I’m still angry and depressed and resentful and irritable and insecure and self-loathing and anti-social and neurotic and detail-obsessed and high-strung.

Some of these were issues when I was a drunk and I’ve made improvement on them. Some of these flaws only got worse when I stopped drinking. And some are new. What’s the solution? I know if I had a couple of beers the next time I go out to a friend’s show, I’d have a much better time. I’d relax, I’d be able to connect with people better, I’d be funnier and more animated and less morose. And everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve would unravel, slowly at first, and then very quickly.

My only option is to stay the course. I need to try every day: try to relax, try to enjoy, try to be more patient, try to let go.

The smile says it all.

The smile says it all.

I say I’m “celebrating” five years sobriety but that strikes me as an odd choice of word. I’ve chosen a rocky path and I know I have more difficulties ahead: what’s to celebrate? And how do you “celebrate” sobriety—a tall glass of seltzer and a marathon of Law and Order: SVU?

This is how I understand my illness: there are two people inside of me.

One guy values his friends and family, still has a dream or two, is interested in the world and wants to do stuff: to engage, to participate, to express, to create. The other guy wants destroy the first guy, he wants a drink before even getting out of bed because fuck it and fuck you and fuck the world.

I’ve done a decent job of neutralizing the other guy these last five years.

It’s not always an epic battle of good and evil, usually it’s just a battle to find a matching pair of socks and get out of the house… but yeah, some days it is an epic battle of good and evil.

So I’ll celebrate this progress and celebrate the hard road ahead of me in a fitting way: by tackling the toughest ultra-marathon I’ve ever encountered.

The Peak Ultra in Pittsfield, Vermont is 53 miles of torture. I had trails of crusted blood down the back of my legs from the biting flies when I finished, and I started shaking uncontrollably not long after.

It took me nearly 14 hours to complete the first time I ran it 3 years ago and I swore I would never do it again. I’m going to do it again.

I know I’ll never totally defeat this other guy because, well, he is me. But I can show him who is in charge. I can grind him down, I can knock him back on his heels, I can wear him down, and I can make him suffer. Wish me luck.

**

Now closing in on six years of sobriety, not much has changed.

 I'm a little happier, a little more comfortable, and also a little more stressed as I'm finishing my first full-length memoir.  I welcome it all, the good and the bad, as I don't have any fantasy of living a perfect life or being a perfect person.  AA still holds no appeal to me.

 

My sobriety is my creation, and I own my sobriety the same way alcohol used to own me.

 

--Mishka Shubaly

Dan The Story Man

Drumroll please...

The Sobriety Collective brings you its first story, from none other than one Daniel Maurer--aka Dan the Story Man.

 Yes, the 12 steps work for Dan--and we are proud to showcase his story because he a voice of recovery.  How cool is it that he created a graphic novel illustrating how sobriety works for him?  Hell yes, Dan.  Hell yes.  Also, I love that he wrote his story newspaper style.  Read on, folks.  We. Are. Sober.

*~*~

Helping Addicts Overcome Addiction with a New Kind of Teaching Tool

(St. Paul) –

Just 5-years-ago, Daniel Maurer of St. Paul, Minn., was at the lowest point in his life. “I had hit rock bottom,” he said. “I got arrested for trespassing into people’s homes. It was in a blackout and I must have been searching for pills.” At the time, Maurer was living in Williston, N.D., and working as a Lutheran minister.

Normally getting arrested isn’t something one would boast about, but according to Maurer,

“It was the best thing that could have happened to me. It brought me to my knees to finally address my addiction,” he said.

Dan the Story Man, in the flesh.

His arrest that day in 2010 was the turning point that brought him to where he is today—happy, healthy and sober.  Not to mention on a mission to help others find the road to recovery too. “Recovery is really about embracing your identity as an addict, and knowing that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Together, we are a force and we can help each other.”

He is doing that through  Sobriety: A Graphic Novel, a project he conceptualized while in recovery at The Hazelden Betty Ford Center in Center City, Minn.

He was there from March 1, 2011 to May 30, 2011. “I woke up in the middle of the night, I kid you not, after having a dream to produce a book about addiction and recovery in the form of a graphic novel and how effective it would be,” said Maurer.

He got on the Internet the next day to see if there was anything available like the book he had conceptualized. There wasn’t, so he decided to start work on one. He hired Spencer Amundson, a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, to draw the comics that would accompany his story. It wasn’t long before the story started coming together.

Sobriety: A Graphic Novel presents the Twelve Step recovery process in comic strip form.

The story takes place as five addicts in recovery share their stories. The characters include Debby, who is addicted to benzos (pills primarily used for the treatment of anxiety) and alcohol, and Hannah, who had survived a heroin overdose after someone—and she doesn’t know who—gave her a shot of naloxone, a medicine used to counter the effects of an opiate overdose.

Maurer points out that while in the past comic books have been on the sideline of “real” art or literature, they have grown up in recent years and today are mainstreamed into our culture. “That is because they are simple without being simplistic,” said Maurer. “They tell an engaging story in a hybrid format.”

Research shows that because of the way our brains work, learning that happens with both text and pictures engages a person’s brain more effectively than text or pictures alone.

Intrigued by the ability to reach people with a story about the Twelve Steps in a different and innovative way, Hazelden Publishing’s senior trade acquisitions editor Sid Farrar made the decision to pick up the title.

It was released in 2014.

The mission of Hazelden Publishing is to provide products and services to help people recognize, understand, and overcome addiction and closely related problems.

“My motivation for picking up the title was I had been looking for a way to communicate the complex and abstract ideas contained in the Twelve Steps—in a concrete way—with the younger generation of readers, and those who struggle with literacy and comprehension. It seemed to me a graphic novel was the best way to do it,”

said Farrar. “Based on the feedback we’ve gotten, I think we’ve really hit our mark, particularly with those who are not linear thinkers and learn better through a combination of the printed word and pictures illustrating the power of the message.”

William Cope Moyers is the Vice President of Community Affairs and Public Relations at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. A gifted communicator and a New York Times bestselling author, Moyers knows that different formats of printed materials reach different demographics.

“To see and understand the power of addiction, the promise of recovery—that’s always the challenge,” said Moyers.

Sobriety: A Graphic Novel tells the story like nothing I’ve ever read before. With words, illustrations and potent insights that will resonate with young and older readers alike, the book leaves everyone with hope.”

Copies of Sobriety: A Graphic Novel are available online at Hazelden.orgAmazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com.

They can also be ordered at any traditional bookstore. More information, including a webstrip Maurer has produced about the power of comics to educate and inspire, can be found at www.danthestoryman.com.

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