Thursday, October 19, 2017

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Second Chance
On Mondays I usually talked to Jack, but he didn’t answer my call. I got a message from MaryJo telling me she’d gotten my email address from our website. She hoped I didn’t mind her contacting me. I told her it was good to hear from her.  

MaryJo asked me if I could reach out to Rudy. I told her I’d rather drink coffee until my hands shook, and then give myself a vasectomy riding in the back of a pickup down a bumpy road.

She typed ‘HaHaHa’, thinking I was joking. ‘He doesn’t understand why you hate him. I know you don’t hate him, but that’s how he thinks.  Could you give him a second chance? Stick out your hand? Be the bigger man.’

My conscience annoyed the hell out of me by listing all the times I’d been given a second chance. I told MaryJo I’d talk to Rudy. I wasn’t going to be his verbal punching bag, but I’d try to start over with him.
Today I’ll give someone a second chance.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Getting to the Good Part
My daughter Blondie called me when I got home. She and her fiancé Antpup had both been offered transfers to Bleak, New Mexico.

“It’s a drab, miserable place,” Blondie informed me. “If you have a future with the company, you stay a year and learn the ropes.”

As she spoke, I looked up Bleak on the internet. It was below Hope on the map. A former secret Cold War military base, much of the Corporation’s facility was underground. The Corporation had gotten it for a song. The town of Bleak had sprung up around the site. It consisted of a grocery store, a bar and the town’s only restaurant, a laundromat, an oil change and tire center, and a tattoo parlor. 

“It’s going to be tough,” Blondie added with a sigh, “But worth it over time.”

I said, “It’s like boot camp, training camp, the first year of recovery, and learning to play an instrument. You have to work through the first part to get to the good part.” 

Today I will work through the first part to get to the good part.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Case of Empties
As I was leaving, I bumped into a newcomer I’d met the week before. I asked him how he was holding up.
“I feel empty,” he said. “Drinking was a big chunk of my life.”
“You ever start with beer and drink ‘til you were full?” I asked. “Then you drink shots, but ‘cause you’re drunk you hardly notice how bloated you feel?”
“And somebody says, ‘let’s go to Denny’s.’”
“Right,” I said. “So at the end of the night you throw up. And throw up some more. Until you feel completely empty.”
He smiled, he knew where I was going. “You give your empty belly time to settle down.  Then you fill it, but slowly.” He shook his head. “You let your life settle down before you fill it the same way.”
“It all starts with feeling a little empty at first.”

Today I’ll accept feeling a little empty at times.
2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, October 16, 2017

Let It Go
At the end of the meeting I walked to the podium to shake Rudy’s hand.  Several people stood in line in front of me. When it was my turn, I shook his hand, and said, “Nice lead.  I appreciate your honesty.”

It had been two weeks since our first encounter.  Rudy had been angry then when I had told him I just wanted to sit quietly, and listen to the speaker. I had hoped he’d forgiven me for wanting a moment’s peace.

“Lucky me, Mr. Important had the time to listen,” he said, loudly enough for the people behind me in line to hear.  He looked around me to them, making sure they heard.

“You have a nice night,” I said.

Today I will let go of someone else’s resentment.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Don’t Feed the Hand That Bites You
I got to the Sunday night meeting late and took a seat in the back next to MaryJo and Phil.  An uneaten donut sat on MaryJo’s plate.

The chairman called for the readings. Phil rose from his seat, pushing on his cane. He read the Twelve Steps in a steady voice. The man refused to surrender to the pain.

The chairman introduced Rudy, that evening’s speaker. “My father wasn’t a bad guy,” Rudy said, “I can’t blame him for my drinking.” As Rudy told his story, I thought Rudy was wrong. His father was a bad guy, a brutal, arrogant, tyrant who had crushed Rudy’s spirit.

I doubted I’d ever like Rudy, but I understood him better. He had been bitten time and again trying to feed the ego of his abusive father. 

Today I won’t feed the hand that bites me.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday, January 30th, 2020 

An Honest Mistake
Two days later I drove three hours to give a speech on burnout to 150 people. In the crowd sat judges, probation officers, counselors, social workers, and others prominent in the addiction treatment field. They came from all over Pennsylvania and represented a golden opportunity to establish contacts in the eastern half of the state.

I was ready for them.  The crowd smiled, nodded their heads in agreement, and laughed as they followed along in the twelve-page booklet I had provided.   I timed the speech perfectly, covering all the material with five minutes left for questions.

I was pretty pleased with myself until a man in a suit approached me after the training.  He held the conference program in his hand. “Did you know you were supposed be talking about changing addictive thinking?” he asked.  He showed me the program.  My heart sank.

Later I realized I had read the conference planners’ email from the year before. That year I had also discussed burnout.   I spent the rest of the day wondering how I could have done something so stupid. 

The next day I presented on forgiveness in recovery. I paused when I got to the part about forgiving oneself.
Today I will forgive myself for honest mistakes.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

“To Accept the Things I Cannot Change”
The next day Antpup called me to get my opinion on the wedding plans.

“Antpup,” I said, “A wedding is the vehicle that takes you to marriage. You have to be in the very front of the car, standing tall, leading the way, looking powerful.”

“I’m the engine?” he asked.

“You are the groom, you are the hood ornament. Your job is to look good, not to drive any decisions, steer in any particular direction, or God forbid, slow the vehicle’s progress.  Accept this and the ride will be much smoother.”

“I guess there are worse things to accept.”

“From now ‘til your honeymoon, smile. Nod your head. Be grateful.”

Today I’ll be grateful for things more easily accepted.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Which Puppy Do You Feed?
The phone rang at Jack’s end. I could picture him sitting at his desk, absorbed in whatever he was doing, in no hurry to grab the phone. The answering machine clicked on just as he picked up.  “I’ll call you back,” I said over the sound of the recorded message.

When I called back Jack said, “My agent thinks he has a publisher, not great money, but good.”

“Nice!” I said. “Are you excited?”

“I am,” he said with almost no emotion. I pictured a snail, raising its head slowly, giving a half smile, and then sliming off somewhere.

“Try not to get too excited,” I said. “It’s bad for the heart.”

He chuckled. “I am excited, smartass.”

I was excited too, but also a little jealous. My mixed emotions reminded me of the legend of the two wolves that live inside us. These  two emotions were pups. I decided to feed the excited one.  “So tell me about the publisher.”

Today I’ll be happy for someone, even if I am a little jealous.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday, January 27th, 2020
Common Ground
I called my friend Jack to see if he’d heard from his agent.

Jack had met his wife at a party while she was still drinking. Her name was Jill, and he joked that being Jack and Jill, they should hook up.  They did, an hour later in the bathroom. 

Jill quit drinking when she found out she was pregnant. They agreed to co-parent the child, thinking in time they’d get to be friends.  Luckily for their son KC, Jack and Jill fell in love at pre-natal classes, doctor appointments, and shopping trips.

Jill, who taught third grade, thought she should be allowed to Taser uninvolved parents at the end of every grading period. Petite, she formed a swarm of one, buzzing around and overwhelming everyone she met.

Although he’d been clean for years, Jack moved and talked like he’d just swallowed a bottle of cough syrup.

KC called his parents “Hyper” and “Hipper.” He said they gave people hope that in a world so divided, people so different could make their relationship work.  Despite their differences, they’d been married for twenty-years.

Today I’ll be inspired by people who make it work.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, October 8, 2017

January 24, 2020

Compromise
Ms. Rella stuck her head in my door. “Chocolate or vanilla cake?” she asked. “What kind of icing?” She was planning the retirement party I didn’t want.

“For the last time,” I said, “No party. I’ll shake hands with The Other Ken and Max The New Guy. You and I will hug. We’ll keep in touch.”

“I’m inviting the management team, everyone in the outpatient sites where you train, your wife, and folks who buy your training series every year.”

“I’ll give you ten names.”

“You’ll give me fifty,” Ms. Rella said.

“I’ll give you twenty-five and their contact information to verify they exist and plan on coming.”
“Done,” Ms. Rella said.  “And I will verify.  And don’t waste my time with imaginary names like ‘Beau Guss’ or ‘Anita Mann.’”

I hated the idea of a retirement party.  People I cared about loved the idea. So I compromised. I didn’t want to be one of those rigid people building up his self-esteem by always getting his way. Having retirement party wasn’t a violation of principles. Nobody was asking me to lie or steal. Besides, I like cake.

Today I will compromise, just not my principles.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.
Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, October 5, 2017

‘Bring the Body and the Mind Will Follow’
I asked Blaine to come into my office and tell me his story.

Blaine had been raised by a hard-drinking, workaholic father he rarely saw, and a wine and Valium loving mother. He was allowed to drink wine from an early age.  His mother let him smoke weed in the basement when his father wasn’t around.  He said, “Some people have stocked refrigerators.  We had a stocked medicine cabinet. To be honest with you Ken, I can’t wait to get off probation so I can get high again. I’m just doing rehab to make the court happy.”

“Then no more opiates, and no more bullshit stories about how your urine got dirty,” I said.  “Maybe you’re not here for the right reason, but you’re in the right place, and that’s a start. They have a saying in AA. Bring the body and the mind will follow.”

Blaine laughed, “My older brother dragged himself to church for a year just to make his girlfriend happy.  They broke up, but he’s studying to be a minister.”

Today I will drag myself to the right place.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I Thought It Was A Different Kind of Aspirin
I circled ‘positive’ in the block marked opiates.

The man’s name was Blaine and he wasn’t happy. “Don’t you believe me?” he asked.

“That your vet gave you a used syringe, you accidently pricked yourself with the needle, and this put enough leftover opiates into your system to be detected on a urine drug screen?” I asked him. “No.”

He started to say something, but I interrupted. “Here’s the deal about lying.  If you feel good about lying it’s usually because you like getting over on people who believed you.  You can get hooked on that rush. Feeling bad about lying can be the first step toward relapse. And if you don’t feel anything when you lie, lying becomes just another tool you use to get away with things, liking getting high while on probation.  AA and NA suggest being rigorously honest to avoid those traps.”

“Okay,” Blaine said, “Here’s the truth, I went to get an aspirin, but somebody musta put a Percocet in the pill bottle…”
Today I’ll try to be rigorously honest.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sooner Rather Than Later
I went back to my office. Just as I was settling into my desk chair, when a young man I didn’t recognize stuck his head in my door. “Can you watch me pee?” he asked. He was holding a specimen cup.

We went into the bathroom.  He passed a breathalyzer, and then provided me with a sample. I dipped the twelve panel test into his urine.  He watched over my shoulder. I told him I’d let him know if anything showed up.

“Oh, I know it’s clean,” he said still peering over my shoulder as the test strips darkened.

“You’re positive for opioids,” I said. He told me that was impossible.  I tested him again. “You’re still positive for opioids,” I said. I started to fill out the paperwork.  He put his hand on the paper.

“Before you mark me positive, here’s what I think happened.  I give my cat an injection once a week.  I got the needle from the vet.  He must have used it giving painkillers to large animals. Then, to save money, he recapped the needle and gave it to me like it was brand new.  He’d save money on supplies that way.  I accidentally stuck myself with that needle. Probably how I got opioids in my system.”

I started to argue with him, but changed my mind. Instead, I said, “The sooner you get clean, the longer you’ll have to look back on your recovery, the longer you’ll have to enjoy your life.”

Today I’ll remember, the sooner I get started, the longer I’ll have to look back and enjoy.

  
2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, October 2, 2017

2020 Vision will return tomorrow.  Today is my  29th sober anniversary and I always take the day off. The last time I had a drink, I made an illegal left turn at 3:00 a.m. and hit a county sheriff. I had just gotten kicked out of my Ph.D. program and my divorce was a month from being final. I was $35K in debt and living in a sad apartment with a blind cat and no furniture.

Life is good now. My wife and I have been happily married for twenty-six years. My son and daughter amaze me. They've never seen me drunk, and have a hard time believing the stories from my younger days.  I was lucky enough to hold onto most of my old friends.  I love my job.

I write this every year to remind myself of all the rewards of recovery, and what life was like when I was still drinking.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

January 23, 2020
Indian Summer
The winter of 2020 had been brutal. A shift in the polar vortex had brought frigid Artic air south where it set up a lounge chair, parking itself over the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest. The reality of my resignation was setting in. The opioid epidemic raged on.

I walked into Ms. Rella’s office to get my mail, shivering and shaking snow from my hair. “This sucks,” I said to Ms. Rella.

 Cindy knew I meant more than the weather, but she said, “It’s Indian summer.”

“Indian summer happens in the fall. Have you been huffing markers?”

She smiled. “In India it’s summer, but India seems a million miles away and it feels like summer will never come back from there.  But it will. It always does.”

Today I will remember summer comes back.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com