February 26, 2024
It has been just a great two weeks since my last post. Nothing especially remarkable has happened; just a solid and heavy workflow at the paint desk in Paintville (my nickname for where I mix paint forty+ hours a week), and fourteen steady days of serenity at The St. Gabriel House where I call home. My family in Indiana is in a healthy place. My daughters in California seem to be living their best lives. And, I’m starting to make some plans, or at least jot down a few considerations, for things to do with my paid vacation time that I’ve been fortunate enough to accrue.
I had this weekend off, too. Saturday was a complete and total day of rest. And my Sunday started with a hot coffee cup and ninety-minutes of The CBS Sunday Morning Show (just good, positive news for the most part), followed by a phenomenal ninety-minute session with my Spiritual Advisor, Jack O. We both got a chuckle out of my observation when I said something to the effect of, “If we were speaking of my duration here at The St. Gabriel House in college terms, I’d be a second-semester senior!” And then we talked about how far I’ve come since the morning of October 9, 2020 when I moved in.
It’s so astounding how a life in recovery ebbs and flows. And how, specifically, the feelings of toxic shame I was writing about in the prior few posts can wash away, and how I find myself sitting here content and confident about all the time and effort I’ve put in to living a solid recovery program. I honestly never thought it could feel this good. I look at my job, and I just got recognized as “Employee of the Month” (out of 200+ people). I look at the opportunity Tim Murray has given me with this blog, and all of the sudden I’m writing my eighteenth entry. I look at and assess all of my friends and family, and everyone that’s in my life are people I genuinely want to spend time with.
It’s time for me to start thinking about some greater goals. Goals not to move out, but to continue to grow…and share — all of the gifts that Trinity and the resilient love my family and friends have extended to me. I’d like to evolve this blog into a podcast, and Jack and my buddy that introduced me to Trinity, Pat F., and I have briefly talked a bit about it. And I’d like to also pen a companion-sort-of book to accompany this blog and potential podcast. And so, in my off-hours in the nine months ahead I’m going to work on the development of both initiatives.
In doing so, I’m going to use a trick I found to be successful in my agency writing and creative directing days, and that is I’m going to begin this year with the end in mind; developing a number of ultimate success measures and working my way to their achievement. It feels great to be in this situation, and only just a little bit intimidating. And it also feels just necessary. Like a mission…with a vision, and sense of purpose. I have no idea where this leg of my life journey will evolve to and take me, but it feels good to lacing up the boots to do so with just a solid three-and-a-half-year inspired foundation under my feet.
Love & Rockets,
February 13, 2024
It has been a pretty blessed start to the New Year; almost a month and a half in and I’m feeling truly phenomenal about where I’m at with my sobriety journey. I lived here at the St. Gabriel House for 3.5 years and I’m officially the longest-tenured resident in the house, and I’ve not had a relapse. I’m just as excited about my job mixing paint as I was when the offer was extended to me early in the height of COVID madness. We have a new House Manager that’s hit his stride. And, there are a great group of guys who are as committed to seeing others succeed as they are working on their own programs with their spiritual advisors and sponsors.
I’ve had a number of chats with some of the guys about my recent topic, toxic shame. And, honestly, every single person I’ve talked to has experienced it to one degree or another. Ironically, one thing that we’ve also agreed on is that it feels good to have realized the trauma associated with toxic shame while we’re living here, together, in The St. Gabriel House. In part, because we’re all going through it together and so we can all relate. But also, because we’ve all realized that The St. Gabriel House and Trinity have given us all the most solid foundation than we’ve had in years…like fourteen years for me, specifically.
What has been somewhat perplexing for me, however, is what to do with the source(s) of all the trauma now that I’ve identified so much of it? My father is dead, so I’ve just talked to God about him and said a few specific prayers. Others fall into the category “except when to do so would (emotionally) injure them or others.” And then, having treaded and dwelled in the past for well over a month, just yesterday I came across this insight that has kind acted like a lightning rod for me that said,
“Regret and shame can be the biggest source of fuel in the world.”
That sentence just stopped me…and then after what felt like a few hours, it hit me —
So “use it…”
- …as a beacon of light to show the world you have changed
- …as a source of strength to show others the power of your commitment
- …as a benchmark of how you never want to feel again, and how you want to feel – daily — going forward
- …as an example of how your story can inspire others on their journey
- …and be grateful that you have another day and opportunity to live an inspired and dynamic life
I could write a whole list of bullet points, but five is good for now. The point, for me at least, is that you have to use the deep-digging to propel oneself into proactive, definitive action. Don’t be afraid to do it. Don’t dwell too long in the negative. You’ll know when enough is enough. And will be glad that you “went there” as the spring in your step and the vitality in your outlook will work together in a way that makes you hear a confident and inspired voice that says, “You’ve got this, Adam…again.”
With a Full & Inspired Heart,
January 29, 2024
I had a great session with my Spiritual Advisor this past Saturday. As Jack does, after the small talk is out of the way, he simply asks “So how are you doing?” And probably like I have done 99-percent of the time I responded something like, “Everything here at the House is great…work is going well…my family back in Indiana has a lot on their plate…and my daughters seem to be acclimating to California just fine.” After I said that in so many words, Jack shook his head acknowledging what I had said, and then replied, “That’s great, but I asked, “How are YOU doing?”
His inquiry and response isn’t the first time I’ve been called out for evading me and the realities of my truth, as about fifteen years ago and before I was ever in recovery, I had a counselor call me out, saying that his purpose was to help me work through some agency politics, not fix my boss and all of the issues making work and our office dynamics unbearable.
Looking back at both circumstances it makes me realize how much of a people pleaser I am and have been, and how I still need to embrace my life and further define my long-term goals, and prioritize my life so I’m not just half-living in the now, with one leg knee-deep in the mud of the shame and regret of my past failings.
I realize, in writing all of this, that it’s just a bewilderingly scary and vulnerable place to be. But, I am better prepared than ever to realize my future than in 2010 when I first found myself in rehab and early recovery. I have over three years of solid sobriety and lessons from all of my past failings as my footings. My confidence in sharing my story and journey has become a source of strength rather than a burden of heavy baggage and toxic shame. And, between my job that I love mixing paint and everything The Saint Gabriel House and Trinity have given me, I know that I’m standing solid at my metaphorical Base Camp ready to climb that mountain in front of me called “Life.” While I do have a lot of overwhelming work in front of me, so many of obstacles my drinking and denial have caused are now years behind me.
The reality of toxic shame presents itself in so many dynamically different, agonizing and paralyzing ways to everyone that experiences it. And what I’m finding is that by not acknowledging it and working on it, it only festers and deepens itself inside one’s psyche, being, and daily living. In other words, it feels so good and actually liberating to be addressing how I feel, sharing my story, and beginning to ideate on the bright future that is in front of me.
Awhile back in one of my sessions with Jack, he said to me, “Adam, where you’re at right now is not about drinking anymore. It’s about chopping wood, carrying water, establishing a healthy daily routine, and taking the reins of your life back.” And so I as I remember that chat and look at who I am now, as opposed the totally shattered man I was when I moved in here on October 9, 2020, all I can say is that the Trinity model for sober living and a life in recovery works…for me…and for all my Trinity brothers who are so boldly taking command of their lives by simply doing “the next right thing…”
With a Full and Inspired Heart,
January 22, 2024
In my last blog submission I mentioned that I feel like I’ve been “– carrying just a God-awful heavy emotional burden and feelings of being a total failure.” So in the past two weeks I’ve locked-in on those feelings, researched it, and discovered that there’s a psychological term that summarizes the feelings perfectly called Toxic Shame. And once I happened upon those very two words, it was almost as if I didn’t have to research it anymore as it was one of those “A ha” moments that has kind of consumed me simply because I’m so very eager to put these feelings behind me.
But, in summary, and unlike normal shame which is very much circumstantial or situational, toxic shame seems to root itself deep into our self-identity causing feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem and self-loathing. So, it roots itself much deeper than feelings of guilt or regret as it’s a fundamental feeling that I’m just “a walking big bag of wrong” every. single. second. of. the. day.
And that’s where the paradox comes in as I absolutely love my Trinity experience. I actually look forward to going into work every day, mixing paint for the diverse array of customers and contractors that come into the store. I eat at least two healthy meals a day. I pray at least twice a day. I get at least eight hours of sleep a night. I have dynamic chats with my St. Gabriel House brothers. I have a ton of laughs with them too! I’m never at a loss for things to talk about with my Spiritual Advisor, Jack O. And, I’ve spent over a year just concentrating on the p. 417/Acceptance chat I had with Tim Murray.
As I do before I typically start writing my blog submissions, I pretest my topic with the guys that I live with to see how they react and/or if they can relate. One St. Gabriel House brother said, “Yeah, it’s just this unshakable stigma.” And then ironically, I got a call from a St. Gabriel House brother that just moved out to go work at Recovery service in Salt Lake City that said, “Adam, you have to read John Bradshaw’s book, ‘Healing The Shame That Binds You’.”
I guess the good news in all of this is that I’m not laying around feeling sorry for myself. I’ve pin-pointed it. And I’ve also given my Spiritual Advisor, Jack O., a head’s up on it, who has dealt with it himself. I’m talking to my Trinity brothers about it. And I’m committing this New Year to growing beyond it, as some simple steps my research has brought to light shows that everything I need to do to get beyond my toxic shame is doable within the four walls of The St. Gabriel House:
- Acknowledge your thoughts
- Recognize your triggers
- Challenge and reframe your thoughts
- Practice compassion
- Take to a therapist
The relief I feel for just being able to put my finger on the pulse of this topic is amazing. And the energy I’ve drawn from simply writing about this personal discovery has inspired me. So if it’s something that resonates with you, the reader of this blog, reach out to me through Tim or Jack O and perhaps we can create a discussion group on the topic. I would love that and look forward to the opportunity so very, very much…
With Much Appreciation & Enthusiasm,
January 3, 2024
I had just a wonderful monthly check-in with my Trinity Spiritual Advisor, Jack O, on the 30th of December to end the year. In that, we assessed for a bit how my life has evolved and gotten exponentially better and simpler since the morning of October 9, 2020 when I moved in to the St. Gabriel House. In short:
- Year 1 was all about establishing a healthy routine from week-to-week
- Year 2, for me, was all about “acceptance” not necessarily just that I’m an alcoholic, but also that some relationships simply just are how they are
- Year 3 I maintained my healthy routine without fail, was able to let go of — or at least loosen up — a few relationship expectations, while working on ways to continually simplify my life while sharing my sobriety journey with others
- And in the year ahead I simply want to let go of all the trauma that has haunted me for far too long so I can start dreaming again and go after some personal goals and professional aspirations
Since I moved in three years ago, shortly after dinner every night I’ve found myself every night YouTube searching presentations from Key Opinion Leaders like Jordan Peterson and Gabor Mate, who have hours upon hours of content on both the dynamics of the Human Condition, and Emotional Trauma as a trigger for Addiction.
Most recently, having found myself in the wonderful position of having truly no one left on my resentment list, I’ve been focusing on the differentiation between resentments and trauma. Specifically, Emotional Trauma as a distressing experience that has happened to me (e.g., a physically abusive father, super-unrealistic expectations from an employer/boss, surrendering too much personal power to an ex-wife, innate feelings of failure, etc.). And Resentment as an emotional reaction I cannot let go.
And yet I was, and have been still, carrying just a God-awful heavy emotional burden and feelings of being a total failure in the game of life…until a few clicks one night lead me to the latest key opinion leader that I’ve been studying, Mel Robbins, and the power of her “Let Them” theory (direct link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4z5C8G32AY).
I shake my head with just a cunning but appreciative smile, in that, I’ve been indirectly trying to control things that are truly beyond my control. That, “Well if I do this, then I’ll get this back or that back…” train of thought. Or, “Once I’m finally able to this, then life will be like that…” When all this time — for well over a decade now — I should have just been practicing the “let them” theory and then just let go, or at least let up just a bit more… Watch the link I’ve shared. You’ll get the gist, super-quick.
Not too long ago, I was chatting with my Mother who lives in Indiana about a number family health issues there, and the fact that my daughters now live in California and that I’m not too sure where I should go next. And after she genuinely heard me out, she said to me, “Adam, you’ve found some wonderful life magic and a renewed sense of purpose in your Trinity experience. Why would you ever want to leave?” And, she is right. My Spiritual Advisor, Jack O, has said to me, “Adam, right now you are exactly where you should be.” And even Tim Murray has said to me, “Adam, so many of you guys don’t realize it, but your Trinity house isn’t an “Extended Stay America.” Your Trinity house is your home.“
So, as I bring this submission to a close, all I ask is that on a go-forward basis, is that if you ever feel so compelled to share this blog, that you do just that. As while my experience is and will continue to be unique to me, it’s also very, very replicable for anyone who needs it…anyone who’s ready to surrender their vice(s) and take an active role in discovering God’s greater plan for them. I truly cannot imagine the last three years without the active presence of my Trinity experience, and I’m truly looking forward to the dynamics of the year ahead with 1857 Carroll Avenue as my base camp…and sharing my journey with you!
With Much Appreciation…
Happy New Year!
December 18, 2023
I’ve been in active recovery since I got out of my first stint in rehab in the summer of 2010. And each winter since, as we approach the Holidays, various degrees of anxiety kick in. Some years are worse than others, as are certain days and sometimes months. How it became to be this way is most certainly complex — if not just cunning, baffling and powerful – as there seems to be no methodology to the sensational sense of seasonal madness.
I just know, this time of year, I sometimes feel overwhelmed, sad, lonely, bitter, self-loathing, and like a bit a loser…when just moments before those feelings kicked in, I felt on top of the world. In searching for a visual metaphor, it’s like I feel like a holiday version of “Pigpen” from The Peanuts, but with a cloud of the aforementioned adjectives just swirling around my head like it’s no big deal.
What’s weird about this annual feeling, is that otherwise I’ve been happier for the past three years that I’ve lived at The St. Gabriel House than I have since 2009 before my life crashed. So I know, each year, that the Holidays are something I have to go through because there is no going around them.
Prayer and meditation certainly help; prayers for those that I love and miss, and meditation on maintaining the serenity and simplicity that I’ve found in my sobriety journey…and all that The St. Gabriel House avails. I do this every morning and every night.
And yet there are some times that after I pray and meditate, that the Pigpen cloud is still there, or just out there in the periphery either haunting me or just mocking me. I just now, in fact, asked myself, “What makes up that ‘cloud’?” It’s most certainly various levels of resentment and regret…unrealistic expectations…betrayal…loneliness…feelings of failure…and just a Hodge Podge of bitter negativity. And when the cloud is still lingering, one thing I’ve found helpful to do is to literally “count my blessings.”
It’s not just: “faith, family, friends, and health, and (insert), and (insert)…”
But more like how I’m blessed by:
1. My belief in God
2. God’s daily guidance of me and my choices and decisions
3. My ability to love and be loved
4. My health and physical capacity to live, work and play and lead an active and dynamic life
…and the list goes on and on, to include very specific family members and friends and their health and vibrant spirits, my job and coworkers, causes and plights and peace, and the next thing I know that I realize I have more than a few hundred blessings to be grateful for.
Sometimes it might take a while, but if you work at it, you can literally get lost in counting all of your blessings…and a warm and content smile will come across your face, as will a full chest of air that fills your lungs…along with the realization that God has put you exactly where He wants you…
You won’t question it…
And you will be grateful for it…
And you will realize that you are indeed very, so very blessed…during this most wonderful time of the year…
Love & Rockets,
December 4, 2023
For four decades of the five that I’ve been alive, the holidays have been a close second (right behind Fall) for my favorite time of the year. In part because my family had two substantial farms in northern Indiana where both sides of my family got together for what was most certainly our depiction of a Norman Rockwell family gathering. And also because mid-way through my third decade, I had two beautiful, dynamic and fun-loving daughters of my own…a successful wife…and a cool dog…a phenomenal career…and just a great and idyllic house overlooking the Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis. There was a lot to be proud of. And there was a lot to celebrate. Until one year when there wasn’t as my life evolved into what felt like just a brutal, slow-motion shattering of my great American Dream.
My wife and daughters moved out in the fall of ’10. I stayed in the house as I was a freelance creative director and writer working from home when I wasn’t on the road. My idyllic house was suddenly lonely, though beautifully staged for selling, and it was just a revolving door of potential buyers, causing my dog and I to take either extended cold walks or long drives until I got an “all is clear” txt from my realtor…who I grew to loathe. I was able to work in a trip to Indiana with my daughters and dog. And I got back, proud to have made it through Christmas…and then the New Year…and I was just on top of the world…until I slipped, fell off the wagon, and found myself back at The Retreat on January 10th, 2011.
Truth be told, I was glad to be back at The Retreat. I had fallen hard. My divorce was proving to be brutal. It wasn’t a buyers’ market and I was forced into a “short sell” situation. And thirty days anywhere seemed like a better place than the daily life and miserable and just bitter existence that I was living.
I’ve relived the winter of 2010 every. single. year. since…as it’s like a dagger in the back just rubbing against a raw, but rapidly-beating heart.
This year is different. In part, because of time…and personal growth…and the number of times I’ve read page 417 of “The Big Book” focusing solely on acceptance…and also because I’ve grown to love and revel in the life of simplicity I’ve created at The St. Gabriel House — and of all things — making paint for the diversity of shoppers in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. I count my blessings, daily, for three years of continued and evolving sobriety…emotionally, as much as I am chemically-free from alcohol.
Beyond embracing “acceptance,” I think managing holiday expectations others might have – and that you have of yourself – is paramount to getting through the month ahead. You might not have the schedule flexibility to get to where you normally go. So be up front about it. You might not have the money to buy the quantity (or quality) of gifts you once did. So write all of your loved ones a heart-felt card. Buy a box of cards for that matter, and a great pen, and a book of stamps and just go to town with the tools at your command…and the honesty in your heart. And, for your gift to yourself, continue to work on you.
I took improvisational comedy lessons at The Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre for a number of years. One lesson we worked on almost weekly was on “your character’s point-of-view.” In that, we were given a number of character attributes to take on and create a scene with another classmate. And at any point, the instructor would stop the progression of the scene and say “Heighten that…”, or “bring it down some…”, of “show more empathy…”, or “go for the funny…” or “tell her you love her…” or “be more honest and tell him what you really think…” And it was just mind-bogglingly crazy how quickly the dynamics of the scene would change for the better.
Long-story short, the holidays might be giving you more anxiety this year — for whatever reason — than what you bargained for. And it’s my hope if you’ve gotten this far and if you’ve felt any degree of angst that I’ve espoused on, that you take it upon yourself to tweak your point-of-view and choose to be an example…an example of the serenity in sobriety…an example of honesty over ego…an example where your presence is loved rather than loathed…and an example that people who were once struggling can in fact not only change, but succeed…
Love & Rockets,
November 20, 2023
Well before I ever went to rehab for the first time in 2010, my wife and I were in couple’s counseling — right around the corner from The St. Gabriel House – on the corner of Prior Ave. and Roblyn Ave…once a week for almost a year. The counselor there, John, did such a magnificent job of getting us back on track, that I continued going to see him on a weekly basis for some work/professional issues that were getting the best of me. My work schedule was just out of control and my boss whom I loved like a father was getting slowly and painfully pushed out, and I felt like I was being drawn and quartered, emotionally.
After what must have been five or six months, John just shook his head and said straight up, “Adam we’ve been talking about the same issues for far too long and I’ve not seen any progress from you. Sure you’re in a horrible situation, but the only thing you’re doing about it is talking to me every other week. Frankly, I don’t care about your boss. And as far as I’m concerned he has every right to experience the human condition, just like you are!” Without missing a beat, I said, “Well then John, how do you define the human condition?” And as quickly as my question came out of my mouth, he fired back, “I define it as ‘Perfectly Flawed.’” And then there was a long pause…
Living in a sober house can be perfectly flawed at times. One can have a number of months — or years – of sobriety under their belt and out of nowhere, you hear that someone in the House has relapsed. “How did happen?” “Why did that happen?” “Is he getting help?” “Where’s he going to go?” “Is he coming back?” “Does his family know?” “What triggered him?” “How long has it been going on?” and every single time, “Why didn’t he reach out if he was struggling?” — all of these questions just hit you literally like a ton a bricks…and the combo platter of concern, empathy, guilt, hopelessness, and brotherly love are all standing there, staring at you front and center. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about what has already been done. So you pray for that brother, pick up the pieces, and move just a little slower for the immediate day(s) ahead as it always takes a little time for the shock to set in. Thankfully, I’ve only been home for three relapse confrontations in the three years I’ve lived here.
But there is perfection in flaw of the situation, and that perfection is two-fold, 1) perfection in how the House Manager handles the relapse. And 2) perfection in how the House always rebounds and bounces back. I’ve had two House Managers in three years, and both men have handled the relapses with grace, compassion and diligence. Though I have no specific quote to share, their command of the moment is kind of like “I’m sorry this has happened, but this is what you’ve done…and now this is what has to be done.” There’s no yelling; just a swift and commanding matter-of-fact reality smack. And the brother is taken to a detox facility or rehab or picked up by a family member. Sometimes they’re allowed to come back. And other times it’s determined that it’s best that he moves on.
As it relates to the House, word always travels around about just as fast as you realize someone’s not around. Rarely, if ever, are there circles of gossip about the relapse – because at one phase in our drinking/using careers or another, a relapse has happened to all of us. We remember the good of the Brother, and acknowledge the reality of the disease; that it’s “cunning, baffling and powerful.” And we wish and pray that this will be the time that the Brother takes command of their program and embraces the moments ahead of them to “just keep doing the next right thing…one step at a time…x12.”
Albeit sadly, you learn a lot when someone relapses. And you remember a lot, too. You learn about what you hope you never do to the House Manager, after seeing what they go through in the heat of the moment. And you remember the times that you yourself have relapsed and what you did to your family members and friends who intervened on you. And then I pray that it doesn’t happen to me…and then I count my blessings that it hasn’t happened for the three years I’ve lived here.
Before I bring this to a close, I do want to acknowledge that the subject of relapse has been on my writing radar for a little while. But, I didn’t want to “go there” simply because the sobriety rate at Trinity is so esteemed, and I’ve had ten other topics that were frankly so much easier to write about. And, it was only after a slight nudge from Tim Murray that I ever thought about going there, as he said “Adam relapse happens. And it’s going to happen again. You know it. And I know it. So write about it. You’re not the only person to ever think about it. And I know you’ll handle it with compassion and grace.”
This transparency from the very top of the Trinity organization is so very admirable and has made this emotionally-triggered topic actually quite seamless to share…perfectly flawed, and all…
W/Just a Ton of Gratitude,
November 6, 2023
For a number of months now, I feel like I’ve been emotionally torn between a few different locales, worlds, and lives, if you will.
Locales, in that my daughters moved to California a few months back with their mother and stepdad …and the rest of my family resides in Indiana…
Worlds, in that my life mixing paint at local/regional retailer is a far cry from my prior career as an in-demand writer/creative director for video, film, live productions and speeches…
And lives, in that the reality of my early 50s has turned out, so far, to be nothing of what I thought my 20s, 30s and 40s were preparing me for…
And while I don’t necessarily feel like a loser, sometimes I very much feel lost and torn…reluctant to chase goals and dreams for fear of losing what’s left of the very little that I possess.
But, I’ve also and more importantly realized that at the very same time I say all of the aforementioned, I’m also happier and more content with myself and the exponentially simpler life of sobriety, acceptance and spiritual growth that Trinity has given me. And that is progress; progress which I also see in a number of my roommates making as they regain their footing in their life, work, and relationships. Because, they too, inspire me as much my own personal daily endeavors have made me realize.
One specific roommate and I have just started calling it “—the Trinity Spirit, in action…”; in action being the driving force of the statement.
You ask almost any guy here “What is your toughest day of the week?” And they’ll more than likely say without hesitation, “The day that I have off!” And that’s because a day off gives one too much time to over-think. So you see, “the Trinity Spirit in action” keeps the house pristine and the rooms clean. It keeps the brothers in communication with their Spiritual Advisors and engaged with each other. It keeps the yard mowed and the leaves raked. And it makes us look forward to sharing Thanksgiving with one another, as well as the rest of the Holidays that follow. It keeps us cooking two meals a day, and asking our roommates if they want to cook together for the third meal. And without hesitation, it avails a proactive “do you need a ride to go get that?” inquiry when we see a roommate walking down the street.
In other words, it’s the holistic and encompassing nature of the Trinity Spirit in action that makes each of the three houses the most dynamic properties on the streets where they reside. Because no one sits around or takes anything for granted.
Last week, a teammate where I work was surprised to learn that not only am I an alcoholic with three years of solid sobriety under my belt, but that I have also been living in a sober house a mile from work. He told me he was sober, too, and invited me to a meeting he frequents 1.9 miles from The St. Gabriel House. The small gift of a great commonality and some shared time at a phenomenal meeting was the perfect start to an otherwise routine Saturday morning off of work. And that gift would never have been possible if it wasn’t for the confidence Trinity and the St. Gabriel House have given me, and the surrender and embrace that my Spiritual Advisor, Jack O., has taught me to make when the opportunity presents itself.
Later in the very same afternoon that day, an old coworker and dear friend of 20+ years txt’d me to tell me he was out front. I gave him a tour of The St. Gabriel House, and as a number of my roommates were coming and going, I introduced them to my friend and we must have all chatted for fifteen minutes in the front yard about much of nothing. Later that afternoon, I got a txt from that friend saying, “Adam, you live in a remarkable house with some even more remarkable and truly exceptional men. I’m proud of you. I’m glad that you have them and that you all have Trinity.”
I couldn’t have asked for a better, more magical yet simple day. And, looking back, I think everyone that played just the slightest bit part in sharing that day felt exactly the same way…and that was just one day out of 365 days that the Trinity Spirit was in action…
W/Just a Ton of Gratitude,
October 23, 2023
A decade or so ago, I started watching a number of episodes of the TV show, Iconoclasts, an interview-driven sixty-minute docu-series that paired up two creative visionaries talking about their lives, their mission(s) and influences, and their art. One specific episode featured South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the famed British entrepreneur, adventurist and visionary Richard Branson. In the years’ prior, I’d studied Richard Branson’s rise and prominence and presented him as a guest speaker option for a number of events I had collaborated on. And, I had spent three weeks in South Africa for a work assignment and knew a little bit about Desmond Tutu’s significance. I loved the benevolent spirits of both men, individually. But seeing the two together, swapping stories and waxing philosophic as if they’d been friends for fifty years was such a unique viewing experience that I found myself so very envious of the actual production crew that got to film the two gentlemen.
At one point in the episode, the question arose, “Just what is an iconoclast?” And without missing a beat, Desmond Tutu said, “An iconoclast is someone who just shatters myths.” He answered that definition with such confidence and enthusiasm, that the definition has stuck with me for all these years, and is a moment I turn to when I have to look deep inside myself; when I feel the world is looking down upon me and my journey, and I need to find and renew my purpose. And my Trinity experience has most certainly shattered any myths I had about sober living and is central to my journey and purpose. And, that by doing as my Trinity spiritual advisor, Jack O., told me to do (“ — Getting up and chopping wood and carrying water.”), I’ve found myself in one of the happiest places, ever, in my fifty-one years of life.
It’s so crazy to realize that you’re not only living in a place that you thought you’d never fall in to, but that you’re actually living in “that place” and are starting to thrive again; waking up each day glad to be alive and searching for that inspiration…getting into healthy routines…and grateful for the opportunities that get presented. And, I find inspiration in my Trinity Brothers that are doing the exact same thing as I am. We build on each other’s small steps and significant milestones. We applaud each other for the most simple accomplishments, and don’t hesitate to pick someone up or drop someone off when they need a ride. The definition of Your Brothers’ Keeper is alive and well and working for each of us.
And I think what’s most magical about my Trinity experience is that the longer I stay, the better it gets. And I’ve been grateful to live here since my very first step across the threshold of The St. Gabriel House’s front door!
Six months or so after I moved in, my ex-wife told me that her husband got a job in California and that they, along with my daughters, would be moving. While I was happy and supportive of the opportunity, I also bordered being just emotionally devastated. Part of me wanted to move and get out to California before they did. And it felt like the other part of me had just plain and simply died. I talked with my Trinity Brothers about it. I talked with Jack O. about it. I talked to Tim Murray about it. And I talked to God, a lot, about it. And I stayed back, here at The St. Gabriel House, to continue to work on me. And that has been the second best decision I’ve made for me, since I made the decision to move in here on October 9, 2020.
You see, I’ve realized that by moving from Minnesota to Indiana…and then Florida…and then Chicago…and then Arizona…and to Connecticut…and back to Indiana…and finally, back to Minnesota that I had been chasing either a pipedream or the Proverbial pot of gold instead of building a solid foundation. And I can’t even begin to espouse how appreciative and grateful I am for all that Trinity and literally my brothers in arms, have extended to me…and the foundation Trinity has provided both under my feet and where I sleep, so soundly…every night. As truly, Trinity Sober Homes has shattered every myth and preconceived notion that I had for what sober living and brotherhood is all about.
Love & Rockets,
October 9, 2023
Today, Monday, October 9th, is my three-year anniversary at The St. Gabriel House…and I’m still on Cloud 9 from The Trinity Gala that was just a few nights ago, which has become my favorite day of the year. Something about the collective cause that is Trinity Sober Homes, the energy that is assembled in the ballroom, the kind and generous tithes that are given, and the messages from the people on-stage all work together so seamlessly to make The Trinity Experience the most special cause I’ve ever aligned myself with and rallied behind. And I used to create, write and direct live events for a living for over twenty years!
But let’s focus on one word in the aforementioned for a second – and that word is ENERGY. In my prior career, and for an audience the size of the Trinity Gala, I would have at least twenty crew on headset. Technical directors, lighting designers, sound designers, talent wranglers, band leaders, stagehands, graphics operators, production managers and assistants, and more. And, there would be scripted cues that I had typed out months prior, like THE BALLROOM DOORS OPEN AND THE INCOMING AUDIENCE IS WELCOMED BY THE UPBEAT MUSIC FROM THE ON-STAGE BAND(!), or FADE IN HEARTSTRING MUSIC UNDER KEYNOTE, the PYROTECHNICS EXPLODE(!), the STAGE LIGHTS DIM TO PUT FOCUS ON AWARD RECIPIENT, and even once or twice SEND IN THE CLOWNS. You get the picture. In many ways — well actually in every way – the emotional energy of the rooms and arenas I worked in were controlled environments.
And in fact, in the days before last year’s Gala, I took it upon myself to write-up what we call a RUN-OF-SHOW AGENDA for the Gala, and Tim handed it back to me before the rehearsal and kindly said, “Thank you, but we don’t need any of that.” I was a little perplexed, simply because one thing a run of show document does is mitigate the risk of the event running long and going over its allocated time. But I bit my lip and trusted Tim’s judgement, and was he ever right in doing EXACTLY what he did. And it taught me a couple very valuable lessons. One, that I wasn’t right about everything in the realm of public assemblage. Two, Tim knew his audience exponentially better than I ever would – or will. And three, how Tim’s approach let AUTHENTICITY PREVAIL and lead the way throughout all of the dynamic happenings on-stage and in the ballroom. There’s nothing that’s scripted. And, there are no smoke and mirrors for anyone to hide behind…and there are also no smoke and mirrors for big grand entrances and speaker reveals that eat up budgeted money simply to feed an ego and “make this year’s production bigger and better than last year’s!” – a common phrase I’ve heard at least 100 times in the early stages of the productions I’ve collaborated on.
Tim asked me to be on-stage during this year’s Gala in the Q&A portion of the dinner, to which I obviously obliged. And while being in the magic of the moment, I might have not said at least 25% of what I had hoped to say, I hope that everyone that was there and that is also reading this, might also remember me saying toward the very end of the Q&A something to the effect of, “Your tithe will not get lost. You can drive by any of the three houses in the city or down to the St. Isidore Farmhouse and see your money in action.” And that is the authentic magic of The Trinity Experience. Your tithe will not get lost (in overhead), and it will always be put in to action. Action that helps better a number of great and phenomenal men who have surrendered to a disease state and are doing the next right thing to be a contributing and loving member of their families and communities where they live, love, work and play. And THAT is called “the grace of God…in action.” To which, everyone benefits.
My other takeaway since I drove home from the Gala, personally for me, and since my first foray in recovery and failed effort at sobriety (back in ’10) is that finally, my sobriety has become sacred. As my spiritual advisor, Jack O., told me would happen, “Your biggest failures will become your greatest source of strength. You’ll look back, and you actually wouldn’t change a thing – because you’ve finally conquered those battles.” And that’s why, with every blog entry I’ve contributed, that it gets just easier and easier to spread the word and share my Trinity experience and testimony. Certainly, I could not have done it alone. And in giving credit where credit is due, I’m not the first guy “to get by with a little help from my friends” – friends whom I love as my brothers-in-arms, and family.
Love & Rockets,
September 26, 2023
Well before my first marriage fell apart and I checked into rehab for the first time, I had my first “Adam, you might have a boozing problem.”, moment. I was collaborating on the merger of two Japanese pharmaceutical giants and the launch of their subsequent presence in America. The companies had retained a Madison Avenue branding agency who provided me with a creative brief that so very perfectly outlined their new Mission, Vision, Purpose & Values statements and all the messaging that supported both the launch of the merged company and its three-year plan. The brand statement was simply and humbly, “Adding to the balance of life.”
I had worked on a number of similar projects in the years before, and the simplicity and honesty of their brand statement hit me right between the eyes because while internalizing the statement, I realized how out of balance my life was.
I was as much of a workaholic than I was an alcoholic. My girlfriend who I was living with and would later marry was pregnant, my father had passed away in Indiana, and my brother was diagnosed with a very progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis. My friends were all getting married, so it seemed like there was a wedding and an awesome reception every other weekend. It was enough to make my head spin, which it did indeed do, metaphorically.
As one might imagine, up to this point, I only had one speed in life, and that was “full tilt, overdrive.” And rather than prioritize the issues and problems on my plate, I took solace in drinking. In silence. At night. At the airport(s). Weekend mornings. At every single social gathering. And also by myself. All during which, that damn branding statement just haunted me in the back of my mind because I knew in my heart that there was absolutely no balance in my life.
That was in 2009. Fast-forward to 2023 – after a divorce, a few jobs in various states, another marriage and divorce, a relocation back to Minnesota, and now being two weeks’ shy of my three-year anniversary at The St. Gabriel House — and I finally feel that I’ve realized a healthy balance in my life.
And I credit my Trinity experience for providing me the foundation for that balance. And what’s amazing is that by living in a Trinity house, you get to see guys finding their balance, too. With balance comes health. And confidence. And what I call a bit of “middle-aged wisdom.” Granted, I might have failed-forward for far too long, but I’m so grateful that I never gave up. Because the serenity found in the simplicity of living a Trinity life far outweighs the dynamics of a six-figure salary, a daily hangover in three different time zones in the very same week, 70+ hours of full-tilt work, and a materialistic-centric marriage.
I say all of this just to juxtapose how shattered I was for far too long due to the roll that alcohol had in my life. And I think, retrospectively, that it’s healthy to not only admit that you’re an alcoholic (or addict), but that on top of your substance abuse, that your life might be totally shattered…at least to the degree that you can recognize all that there is to clean up beyond your drinking and/or drugging habit(s). Your relationships with family and friends. Your career reputation. A healthy diet and routine. Your spiritual relationship with God and/or your Higher Power. And most of all, your conscience.
I’ve lived in The St. Gabriel House for almost three years. And it is just now that I feel that I’ve arrived at “Base Camp” for the next phase of my life. And beyond all of the small little miracles that perfectly aligned themselves to get me where I’m at, I have to thank my Spiritual Advisor, Jack O., who laid out the expectation for Year 1 when he said, “Adam, the only goal I want you to have for the next year is a healthy and sustainable daily routine.” And to Tim Murray when he said to me a year ago on my Year 2 anniversary, “Well Adam, you’ve done everything Jack told you to do, but you still haven’t come to grips with page 417 of The Big Book and accepted all that you have in your wake. So open your book up and read it to me for the next few minutes…”
You see, my Trinity relationships have become sacred to me. And not just because Jack and Tim are “The Dudes.” I love them both as I do my familial uncles…but I also love my new brothers…my brothers named Patrick and Jerome, and Mike and the other Mike, and John and Bill, and Scotty and Troy…all of which have become my extended Trinity family…which is a Promise and a blessing that I could have never imagined happening when I moved in here on a chilly morning, October 9, 2020. And if you don’t believe me, just come to the Trinity Gala this October 5th as the spirit inside that room is most certainly reflective of the biggest “family reunion” you will ever witness, or rather, experience…
Love & Rockets,
September 11, 2023
A little over twelve years ago during my first stint in rehab at The Retreat, I happened upon my favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you.” For me, it was one of those moments where you scramble to grab a pencil, and rip off a piece of paper, and write it out, and underline it, and darken-it-up, add quotation marks, site the verse, and just sit in the magic of the moment and surrendered myself to having succumbed to the reality that I very well might just be an alcoholic. The verse gave me hope that at least there was some person or spirit that believed in me, and that what felt like just a miserable crap sandwich of a life was fixable if I just committed to my stay and endeavored to “– just keep doing the next right thing.”
For years thereafter I weighed my decisions up against that verse, “Is that part of God’s plan?”, “Is doing this going to better me and my life which is at Ground Zero?” and then I would react accordingly, though I do admit having fallen so hard and publicly with my friends, family and coworkers, I often found making even just the simplest of decisions actually became excruciatingly hard…until I realized I was allowing others to make very significant decisions for me. It was just so much easier to say “Okay…” and live with the result(s) than it was to say “No. That doesn’t feel like part of the master plan I foresee.” And as a result, I took jobs that distanced myself from my daughters and family and friends. I found that it was easy to “slip,” or should I say “sip” when I otherwise knew it was wrong. And then it was just Groundhog Day or Groundhog Week or Groundhog Month all. over. again.
“God,” I would ask, “why?” You see, I became stuck in the darkness and catastrophic mess the Steps 7, 8 & 9 actually clear up, and I lost all sense of hope, in part also because having so much conflict in my wake, I was afraid of conflict going forward and just couldn’t see the proverbial “light at the end of the road.”
History seemed to repeat itself for far too long. I would still go to meetings and pick up a sponsor in whatever city I was living in, and quite often I would hear him/them say, “Adam, do you think you have PTSD?” “Well that’s for soldiers.”, I would say. Or, “Adam, why are you letting so-and-so do that to you?” Or Adam, “Your workload is impossible for two men. Tell your boss that “No.” is a complete sentence.” And then, finally after almost a decade of chasing a dragon that I could not define nor get my arms around I was watching a Youtube presentation from an addiction specialist out of Vancouver, B.C. named Gabor Mate who stated that one of the number one drivers and triggers for addiction is simply “unresolved emotional trauma.”
It was as if I was sitting in the Optometrist’s chair with him flipping lenses until total clarity revealed a whole timeline of trauma that ultimately I enabled because I was conflict avoidant and very much a victim of my own self-shame.
I realize I had made a very thorough and well-thought-out Step 8 list, but I had also done a miserable job in seeing thru and facilitating a thorough Step 9. And while there are some Step 9 conversations I may never have simply because so much time has lapsed (e.g., a junior high music teacher that burned me out of spite on a jazz band audition that crushed me), I have found that prayer and positive vibes and forgiveness and actual thanks for what turned out to be a valuable life lesson have truly replaced a traumatic life moment…and that, finally, the only person standing between me and my future I actually me. And that is a wonderful and dynamic place to be standing…in no small part due to my time, spiritual coaching, and the deep personal and situational insight that the St. Gabriel House has availed.
And so now, after all these years of embracing what has been the first part of Jeremiah 29:11, I find myself ready to focus on the promise of that verse, His plans “– plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Love & Rockets,
August 29, 2023
About a year or so before my first marriage I became good friends with the Pastor that married my wife and I and who also subsequently baptized my two daughters. It was as much a friendship and brotherly bond as it was a spiritual and life mentoring sort-of-relationship that I had seen others have with their Pastors and Priests. He called me to brainstorm sermons and message as much as I called him to navigate agency politics and interpersonal relationships. As such, I think he saw well before I did the tumultuous times coming my way due to my drinking, and he did everything he could do to spiritually and emotionally prepare me for what became thee very toughest year of my life that started with a very surprising Intervention. He wasn’t physically at my Intervention, but the strength and spiritual honesty that I had gleamed from him is what allowed me to surrender to the moment and check-in to The Retreat.
My first few days in I most certainly was wallowing in the combo platter of miserable emotions, including (but not limited to) shock, humiliation, and resentment. I had a broken wrist from a cycling accident, and I had a number of off-site doctor visits and was recouping without prescribed pain medications. I was using my personal time during the day to call my freelance writing production teams and clients to let them know where I was and that I had to take a step back for the short term. I was getting care packages and cards from family and friends and collaborators who I was so ashamed to have learned of my whereabouts. And then one day, my Pastor came to The Retreat for a visit. He listened more than he talked that afternoon. And he said to me before he left, “Adam, remember this. God won’t give you anything you cannot handle. And, He will put you exactly right where he wants you.”
I appreciated those insights so very much at the time, as looking back I was most certainly the Webster’s definition of “damaged goods.” They have stuck with me for thirteen years. And I know that through the second part of what he said, that it is that Great White Dove From Up Above that has lead me to where am now at The St. Gabriel House. That He has put me right where He wants me.
In five weeks I’ll have lived here for three years. That will be three years without a relapse. And while many people that were in my life have “moved on” and/or literally “moved away,” the relationships with those that still share their time are cherished and have grown exponentially deeper. A major reason for that is because everything I need to live a spiritual and grounded and sober life are within the walls of this House. Oh, and I also have a Spiritual Advisor whom I love and appreciated like and uncle, and at any given time there are twelve or so brothers that I consider to be my unofficial “accountability partners” who I talk with, cook with, laugh with, pray with, consult with, and can rely on to lift me up when I’m just otherwise having a bad day.
In “The Promises” it says “You will know the concept of serenity…” and so you see and unbeknownst to me, I didn’t know it or find it until October 9, 2020 when I moved here. And I think that serenity that has finally not only allowed me to accept all that has happened with my life, but also share my story with confidence and honesty as it saddens me to the core to see people suffering and ruining at least a portion of their life due to the relentless and selfish disease called addiction.
It has taken me almost three years to appreciate all that I have gone through and accept where I’ve landed. And it’s now, more than ever before, I’m excited about the future before me, and inspired by the work that it will take to make those dreams and visions and perfect life moments and cool little vignettes a reality. And that is a magical place to be that I do not take for granted…
With An Appreciative & Inspired Heart,
August 15, 2023
A number of years ago, myself and another Trinity/St. Michael House alumni, Pat F., had the opportunity to collaborate on the anniversary and relaunch of a revolutionary once-a-day medication for a progressive and terminal disease for which, still today, there is no cure…only the betterment of time and therefore the comfort of those who’ve sadly contracted the disease. This medication had a definitive passion-point, not only from those afflicted with the disease but also with the physicians and pharmacists who prescribed and filled the prescriptions with those sufferers who were literally facing the inevitability of death on a daily basis.
Every campaign a creative team contributes to has to hold itself up to and deliver on the perfect resonate theme; a tagline if you will, that has to be among many things, 5) true and credible, 4) believable and embraceable, 3) evolving, 2) memorable and providing of a call-to-action, and most certainly the theme has to be 1) unquestionably authentic. As such, the theme we won the business with was “The Power of Time.”
“The Power of Time” not only delivered on the aforementioned objectives, but also acted as a springboard for an array of award-winning videos and an original music composition that set the tone for the relaunch and the passion the sales representatives had to have to maintain and grow marketshare in the increasingly competitive landscape. And Pat F.’s lyrics were just perfect, and little did we know then also speak to power of surrender and embracing a life of recovery:
(from the first verse)
It starts with the first step, it’s a brand new day
Take a leap of faith, and suddenly you find a way…
(and from the chorus)
The Power of Time, everlasting measure
The Power of Time, every day is a treasure…
Let miracles surround you, when you believe
In the Power of Time…
I share this story and metaphor simply because I see the power of time working its magic every – single – day – in the St. Gabriel House. And because I know the same spirit and magic are working in the exact same ways at The St. Michael and St. Raphael Houses…and at The St. Isidore Farmhouse…and driving the development and progress of The Bravo Zulu House. I call it “The Trinity Magic.” Guys getting a good night’s sleep. Men getting their appetites back. Brothers becoming more and more confident on a daily basis. Gentlemen dreaming and taking command of their future rather than dreading it. Their families and friends stopping by with care packages. The smiles. The laughs. And the hugs. All of those very real emotions and action steps that reaffirm and magic of The Power of Time.
I was chatting with Tim Murray a few weeks ago, and I asked him, “You’ve been a part of Trinity since its inception. You’ve watched and guided Trinity’s growth and seen hundreds upon hundreds of guys come through. What’s the secret (to Trinity’s success)?” “Well…”, he inflected in that confident way that he does, and then we went through honest and authentic list virtues including (but not limited to) spiritual coaching, accommodations you’re proud of, a spirit of accountability, access to meetings, ease of access to work, most certainly homes infused with serenity, and a spirit that invites and encourages active involvement for the greater good of the Trinity community, and more.
Every man the moves into a Trinity house has the power of time working in their favor, if they just embrace the opportunities before them and live by a number of very basic and wonderful guiding rules and principles. I call it “transformative engagement.” It’s not hard. But it is life-changing. And I count my blessings every day that God has put me right where he wants me at 1857 Carroll Avenue to embrace all of it…
Love & Rockets,
July 31, 2022
I find it interesting that I’m about to write about what I’m about to endeavor, but here I am. You see, when the opportunity to write about sobriety came up, I totally wanted to stay away from what I considered to be “the low-hanging fruit” – topics so common and frequently written about that they seem to get glazed over and border being synonymous with being trite. One topic of which was getting through the summer vacation/cabin season, birthdays without being present, and all of the family-centric holidays peppered throughout the year.
But here, I am in the midst of the summer vacation season…working forty-plus hours a week mixing paint at a major national retailer…seeing shoppers and dynamic families eagerly and energetically stocking up on supplies before they trek north to cabin country…and acting like I’m the happiest paint mixer in the world. When, in reality, I’m bordering being emotionally bankrupt about the embedded struggle with my self-confidence, professional aspirations, my daughters’ recent move to California with their Mom and Stepdad, the move of my best St. Gabriel House house-buddy to start a new life with his fiancé in Arizona, and what seems like a laundry list of other issues that can be simplified just as “life on life’s terms.” It feels so unauthentic to even think about stuttering up phrases like “I’m doing great!” or even “Everything’s going fine…” But yet I do, when it’s otherwise the only phrases apropos to say. And then I wonder, “Does anyone even believe my sincerity?”
This summer seems to be very much like my first set of holidays in sobriety was back in 2010. I was five months out of rehab, separated from my wife and kids, holed up in an otherwise beautiful empty house that was on the market at a very horrible time to sell. And, deep in the throw of a brutal divorce. What was there to be merry about? I had enough money to buy Christmas presents. I even had enough emotional energy to attend a few get-togethers. I was going to two meetings a day. There had been no slip-ups. My dog still loved me. I got some gifts sent to me from family members and a number of phone calls that were rooted deeper in both care and concern than they were out of fiduciary responsibility. Those calls felt like both a blessing and curse. A blessing in that I so very much appreciated the empathy and love. And a curse because though I didn’t know it, I was “faking it to make it” and not anywhere near being “emotionally sober” and accepting of the situation I was in.
Now, here I am, twelve years later and approaching my third year in The St. Gabriel House. I feel that I have whole-heartedly accepted where I am in my life. And I absolutely love living in the St. Gabriel House and mixing paint and everything about the simplicity I find so HEALTHY. Yet emotionally, I feel challenged at the very least until I get myself where I want to be professionally and in the eyes of others who I feel are constantly judging me. But what do I want to do with my life? I know I don’t want to get back into my old agency career as it very much proved to zap the best of me. And so I ask myself daily, “How am I going to get through this funk?”
Right behind acceptance AND gratitude, I’ve found that just being honest works for me. Showing up when I’ve committed to doing so. Being of service to others who are moving and/or need the convenience of my pick-up truck. And taking time for myself and my sobriety when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I talk with “people that get it.” I share as much as I possibly can with God. And keep my body busier than my mind. Too much idle time, for me, enables my brain to wander down the dark streets with rickety houses of shame and guilt and embarrassment and self-loathing. So I create bigger “To Do” lists than I have for shopping lists; laundry, car cleaning, dirty dishes, letter writing – whatever it takes to find a reason to smile, create a rejuvenated sense of purpose, and excitement about being a magical recipient of this wonderful and bewilderingly gift of life — at the healthiest address where I have ever lived.
With Much Appreciation & Enthusiasm,
July 5, 2023
Shortly after I proudly answer people’s inquiry about where I live and give them a snapshot of The St. Gabriel House and all that Trinity has done for me, they always ask, “Well, how did you hear about Trinity in the first place?”
The short answer to that question is “– My dear friend and industry counterpart who I’d collaborated with on a number of soundtracks for a handful of videos and live productions was a resident. His experience was so wonderfully positive and serene for him, that he was a resident twice – and the second time he hadn’t even relapsed, it was that magical of an experience! And it has been that way for me, too…”
A number of months ago, my Mom was up for a visit from Indiana and we were out and about in the Midway neighborhood with my daughters. So we drove by the House and my oldest daughter, Charli, said, “Holy Cow, dad! Wow! That place looks awesome!” “And it is…”, I said in proud confidence.
That same visit, when my Mom came inside to help me bring up some items she bought me, she got to meet my House Manager, whom after a few minutes of chatting she asked if she could hug before she said goodbye. Of course, Mike obliged, and for the last year+ since my Mom asks, “How’s Mike and all the guys?!?!” And, the guys ask how my Mom’s doing, too.
One of my best high school friends is Executive Director of Historic Preservation for Western New York State. A number of months ago I shared some pictures of The St. Gabriel House and sent him a link to the Trinity website. His response was, “Every city in every state needs a Trinity sober home. These properties, and their purpose, are just enviable.”
So you see, Word Of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) works. And, it has for every single Trinity brother I’ve met that in the three houses that currently exist. About a year ago, I was having a smoke and a cup of coffee out back, and my housemate, Todd, said at one point, “Adam, you just seem to be doing really good, and I just want you to know I appreciate you.” That simple comment just set my day into perfect motion. I told Todd, “Well, we both have Trinity to thank.” To which Todd responded, “This house is a source of strength. It’s just a source of strength; it’s that simple.”
In two years I’ve not met a single guy that’s not proud of calling their Trinity house “their home.” I underlined their because every single guy I’ve met in two years seems to have taken and also shared in making their Trinity house their home exponentially moreso than when I lived and co-habitated in a dormitory, a fraternity, an apartment with roommates, a house with wife and kiddos, or in rehab. And further, if you step back and look at each of the Trinity houses on the streets where they reside, you’ll see that they’re not just the best houses on their street(s) because of their physical presence and visual appeal…it’s because of the integrity and quality and spirit of the people inside, collectively doing “the next right thing.”
This past September was my first time attending a Trinity Gala, and I was just wonderfully blown away – by all the people that shared in celebrating Trinity and its mission, and the collective emotional resonance that bound everyone in attendance together. And that greater sense of togetherness that Trinity has provided me with is the greatest gift I’ve been given in my recovery journey. You see, Trinity makes sense out of a situation that was otherwise cunning, baffling and powerful. And not just to me, but the 400 other people in attendance, and the collective generosity that provided $100,000 for the greater good and mission of the Trinity brotherhood. And THAT, is God’s magic working for all of us, our families, and quaint community we call St. Paul.
Love & Rockets,
June 21, 2023
Allow me to introduce myself, Adam K., a forty-nine-year-old resident of the St. Gabriel House; a discerning and magical property in the greater family of Trinity Sober Homes specifically, and a pillar of strength and recovery in the greater good of the Twin Cities sober living community at large. I have lived here since October 9, 2020. And moving in here has been the greatest decision I’ve made for myself since I started my second in-patient rehab experience at The Retreat, on January 11, 2011.
Tim M. and I started discussing the idea of a resident’s blog for the Trinity website over six months ago; in part because my Trinity experience has been so rewarding since I moved in. And, also because of my prior career as an award-winning writer and creative director just might help us help others in finding their own individual silver lining in the sober living considerations and lifestyle decisions they have presented to them.
So please if you will, and from the onset as we begin this time together, take a look at the two dates I’ve already revealed: January 11, 2011 and July 27, 2022. Or, eleven-and-a-half years. Needless to say, I did not move in here on a winning streak. Truth be told, there were so many factors that I failed at even before 2011 that I consider myself both lucky and fortunate to be writing today, as my journey here parallel’s AA’s very definition of alcoholism being, “cunning, baffling and powerful.” And while I have indeed had long very stretches of sobriety, looking back, never in the eleven-and-a-half years would I consider myself spiritually and/or “emotionally sober” until about seven or eight months ago…when I simply started to smile again…gaining trust in others, again…and finding a bit of confidence in myself, again. As indeed, I found myself hovering one-step over misery for a number of years too long.
You can’t talk at length with Tim without hearing him say with the most wonderful smile and burst of enthusiasm, “Well, isn’t that a God shot!?!?!” Having myself never heard that phrase before I first heard Tim state it, a quick Google search defines it as “A God shot refers to an unexpected favor or a sign. The phrase attributes to a profound happening that cannot be explained, but not quite as remarkable as a miracle. It is something that gives an addict a warm feeling inside that indicates to them another reason to why they should stay sober.” In other words, a God Shot gives one hope.
Since I’ve lived at the St. Gabriel house, I must have had at least a half-dozen God Shots that have threaded together a number of otherwise miserable life moments, including (but not limited to): financial strain, news that my daughters will be moving to California, what I thought was a perfectly functioning car catching fire in a hardware retailer’s parking lot, separation anxiety from my immediate family in Indiana who have a number of significant health issues, countless recurrences of feelings of failure, self-loathing, crippling fear over all that I have to correct and rectify, and more. I simply call those feelings of misery and “why me?” The Combo Platter (of life’s crap sandwich and a side of the cries). Yet still, I count my blessings each and every day, in part because I’ve gained a dozen St. Gabriel House brothers who listen without prejudice and remind me of all that I have to be thankful for.
Beyond the pristine physical attributes and accoutrements of each of the Trinity Sober Homes, one of the just mind-boggling God shots I’ve experienced is the unexpected relationship I’ve developed with my Trinity Spiritual Advisor, Jack O. I actually first met Jack during my first stay at The Retreat in the summer of 2010, as he was their director of the men’s program. And to this day, I’ve not forgotten his advice to me at the onset of our very first one-to-one conversation when he so caringly listened to me like I was the only person in the world and then advised, “Adam, just embrace it.” “Just embrace it” were the last three words I expected to hear after all that I had just confided to him. And in retrospect, I so very much wish I would have done so much more fully. But as the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20” and here I am, now. Now, just grateful for the past year-and-a-half, and the path going forward that my Trinity experience has cleared.
I have absolutely no idea where this blog will go. But I am committed to it, and will happily admit that it feels good to be writing again. Neither Tim nor Jack have given me any rules or parameters for what this blog will be. And, the only two conditions I’ve put upon myself is that it be two things that I hope you might grow to appreciate: Authenticity and Honesty…two stepping stones that I no longer take for granted and hold myself up to as standards for daily living.
With Much Appreciation (for your time) & Enthusiasm (for what this blog might avail),