Self-Compassion Sobriety Medicine

One of the best tools is self-compassion.  I want (The easiest way) to be my best self.  I ask myself big questions from time to time.  I also get angry about little things.  For myself, I try to use my negative feelings in a positive.  Like the gym.

Self compassion is a better way.  I accept how I feel and deal with things the best I can.

Generally Self Compassion is not my first thought.  Taking it easy on myself does not come natural.  The things going on my head sometimes can at times be awful!  I would never let anyone talk to me the way I talk to myself!

I have a military personality, it never quite wore off over the years.  Sometimes I know I need a kick in the ass.  Usually I kick my own ass.  I am most hard on myself when I fall short of my own expectations.


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Being tough, Sometimes is a good skill to have.  I get my ass to the gym.  Or, I get my ass to a meeting.  Or therapy session or I get involved in fellowship.  But sometimes I am sad or a bit low.  Then sometimes I am pretty useless to the world.

I am unable to take action in a extreme sad state.  Up starts in my mind, justifications for my inaction.  I explain to myself “in my own head” of of habit, why I am a terd!  Bro, why am I less then??  I am basically beating the crap out of myself.  When this happens, it can be a terrible experience.

Above I essentially describe a bad pattern.  I describe unhealthy learned behavior.  One of the most profound and easiest things to do in recovery is to realize what your patterns of behavior are.  The same things or patterns in life will continue to happen even after you get sober.  Sometimes it is hard to see given self imposed bullshit.  But it is our choice to change behavior for the better or worse.

Behavior change does not happen overnight.  Dude, gotta be honest.  Identify the thing we think or do that does not serve us anymore.  After we identify, comes the real challenge.  Changing…


The change is what hurts.  A change in life involves pain in order to grow.  At 34 I find it difficult to question my very identity after 4 years of sobriety.  Part of me says, “I got life handled, things are good, no need to grow!”


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How good is good enough?  This is a big question, Ill leave it up to the reader.

I realize now that I can be an asshole in sobriety.  Awareness, does not make me a nice dude!  I can’t afford to say to myself, “this is just who I am!”  If I do not grow, I go!  I go where?  Back out there into the world of hustle and BS.  Back into my addiction and who knows how many more addictions.

I probably will not make it back next time, I will probably die.

There is another way.  I can learn; I accept that some days the best thing that I can do is not drink.  I may fall short of motivation and goals for a day.  This means I watch hours of TV or play video games like a addict.  I have a day or two like that.

Anger must not serve as my only tool for motivation in sobriety!  If negative feelings motivate me to stay sober, in the end, ill relapse.  If my life is not leaps and bounds better in sobriety… Why am I sober?  Why not get good and drunk?

Life is better today than any day I was in my addicted.  One tool I totally recommend is Self-Compassion.  I act something like this….

I have lists of goals.  99% of my goals may work out if 1% of things do not work out.  I will tell myself, “that is okay, take it easy.”  I will remind myself, “some things are more then I can ever handle.”  “That is okay.”  Kind of like a baby.

While I am “Being Nice” to myself, generally I am still beating myself up at the same time.  Give it time, the positive voice gets louder and louder.  In sobriety be intentional with yourself.  At 4 years, I still am.

Understand that you are sober now!  Calling yourself insulting names is not helping what you do and who you are today.

Self-Compassion means eventually I want to stand on my own two feet without having to put forth so much effort.  I want to be sober in a natural way.  Someday I want to be okay falling short in life, just a little.  I still want to have a good day or week despite my short comings in this moment.

Today, “I may not be strong enough to handle it.”  It is okay, I will take a breath, or a walk.  I will come back to the present moment shortly.  I will remain focused as I have been.  It is okay to also ask for help.

If anything I did not drink or use today.  I love that saying.  Also, I have a list of accomplishments that I can see every day if I choose to look at them.  If I need to, I remind myself of everything I have done this far in sobriety this far.

What I have fallen short on..  This feels so small because where I am today is so huge.  Where I am today in this moment is the only thing I have.  I can Love myself.  I do not need any validation or approval.  All this is possible in recovery.

Surprise yourself in spite of yourself.

This type of stuff is my recovery.  How do you personalize your recovery?  Also, please follow me on Twitter.  Link: to my most popular blog on how I got 3 DUI’s when I hit bottom.  Thanks for being a part of my community.  Keep your head up.  Try Self-Compassion.

Major Todd (Part 1) Adderall and Gambling

When I was in the Army I was always referred to as a “training aid.”  A training aid helps you perfect your craft.  And if you’re an E-5 (sergeant) or above then you’re referred to as a (NCO) a non-commissioned officer.  Those are the guys I helped train.  I made my bosses pay attention to me because well I just tended to draw attention to myself.  I did not mean it, honest…

I feel during my time in the military I played every role there was to play.  I was the “high-speed soldier” who maxed his PT test.  Other times I was “In the spot light”, we call this “being a dirt-bag.”  This is when you do lots of push-ups, I did lots of push-ups.


Digging holes in Iraq

I always thought it was fun to hang out with the bad soldiers.  In fact, I often slid through the cracks in my 7.5 year military carrier.  I think I got away with more crap then any soldier.  I had about 6 or 7 friend’s who lost rank.  They would get demoted or kicked out of the ARMY.  Now most times I was doing the exact same things as my friends (I just never got caught).

Furthermore, I had my actions reinforced and validated by looking around me and seeing everyone fuck up, but not me.  I even knew a guy who fell through a whore house in South Korea.  He fell right through the roof!  One day this same guy set his face on fire with Bacardi 151.  He showed up to accountability formation on Monday with half a face!  Guys like him got chaptered out of the military while I just fell asleep in a puddle of puke in my barracks room.  Haha.  But not really funny.

And I felt that way too!  I thought I was so clever.  If I was an animal I would be a chameleon.  Doctors often refer to this type of behavior as deviation.  I am deviant, or a deviant…  Haha.  No matter what you call me, the goal was to get away with shit that you did not know about.  This meant that I was better or something??

Really I do not want to get too much more into the why.  When we (or I) look back what I once felt or thought, I remind myself “this really does not matter.”  The only thing that matters in life is what we do, our actions!  I ought to always ask myself, what did I do?

This brings me to my thought when I started tonight.  (TRANSPARENCY)  You may notice, I try to be transparent.  See, I am lucky to have learned the lesson “Lies will ruin your life.”  Or at least they took me down a path to the next bad thing.  And I really do like to peak over the edge in life.

See I am a “hard charger!”  If I do anything I will do the shit out of it.  If I am getting over, I will generally take it too far, until it hurts.  Here is a story, it kind of hurts after years.  In 2009 I was getting a divorce and transitioning out of the army.  I was going through one of my Sergeant TURD phases.  I will never forget my commander, let’s call him Major Todd.  😉

I had just got my monthly (NCOER), it’s like a sergeant progress report.  One of the sections labeled INTEGRITY was marked poor.  I have been very deep in gambling addiction during my transition to civilian life.  One of the biggest addictions in my life is gambling.  Doctors say, the uncertainty of the outcome produces effects in the mind that mirror cocaine.

Don’t ask me all the medical details…  Over the years I spent Hundreds of Thousands of dollars.  I used to get off work on Friday at 5 pm drive two hours to the Indian casino in California.  I would stay up for 3 days and gamble all weekend.  Sometimes I would be so sleep deprived while driving back on Sunday, I would see things that were not really there!  Then by some act of God, after about a hour sleep, I would make it too PT formation on Monday and maybe run 7 miles.

Most times I was unshaven during formation.  One time I recall, I did not shave or even wear my class A’s for a formal inspection on Monday (I totally forgot).  I told my 1st Sergeant that I sold my class A’s (It was true).  I had balls, but no brains.  I also did not have a shit to give about anything, my life was falling apart.  During this time I was also on med’s for ADD.  The Adderall did help me stay up all weekend and gamble.


Eventually, I had this formal meeting with Major Todd in his office.  He told me “Sergeant Pausa!  Have you ever read my mission statement?”  I said, “You gave us a copy when you took over the unit sir.”  He says, “yes but did you read it?”  I say, “I believe so sir”.  (Maj Todd) “Well have another copy there are a lot of good things in my mission statement.”  He slid one off his desk and gave it to me.

(Maj Todd)  “I am looking at the last drug test results, you know what’s interesting?” I say, “I have no idea sir?”  (Maj Todd)  “Well, I know that you’re allowed to take this medication for ADD.  It is prescribed by a doctor and you’re allowed it.  Soldier!  That is perfectly fine!”  I say, “Right, sir! I don’t see a problem?”  (Major Todd)  “Well sergeant, it is an amphetamine, doctors test the healthy level of this drug you’re supposed to have in your blood.  Here it says..  Your levels are about 50 TIMES that of a normal dose!  What have you got to say?”  At this time, I am sure I had a dumb look on my face.  I said, “The results must be wrong sir.  Or mistaken.”  The air in the room was very uncomfortable.

You get the idea.  It’s painfully obvious, I did not give a shit about my carrier because my life is falling apart.  And oh. By the way, POOR ME!  If this is apparent to the reader?  Then you can see this is just the excuse in my story.  And the excuse gave me a reason to get fucked up.  And the drama in my life brought me back to more excuses.  At the time I called bullshit like this “justifiable reasons.”

The real point is that I sure as hell qualify as an addict.  I want more of everything, my addiction is MORE!  This is why it is absolutely necessary that I am totally accountable from now on.  If I get lazy and I am not accountable all the time.  I must at least be transparent as much as I can be.  I must let people like you see through me, for the sake of my Integrity.  (And for the sake of Major Todd)

My military experience was great, bullshit always caught up to me eventually.  I had to make more excuses in the ARMY.  It made me a bull-shit inventor (I would create shit)! And eventually the experience made me an honest man.  A funny thing, I sorted through the love me box everyone has in the Army.  I found it!  “Major Todd’s Mission Statement”

Please comment on this blog if you found it interesting.  Do you have any crazy addictions in your past?  What have you overcome?  Or perhaps, what are you still struggling with that you need to get off your chest?  Id be happy to listen.

Follow me here on Twitter.  Feel free to Re-Tweet.  Also here is a link to my WordPress home page.  If you visit, you will find 4 other blogs.  Still kind of new, but its coming together.  Thanks for reading.  B

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Breaking the mold with CBT

I was not fully aware at how difficult some of my own family would make the process of forgiving them.  Lets call this person family member Z.  Oh by the way, Family member Z is a self-proclaimed alcoholic.  I did in fact do the work with family member Z (9th step).  I was over the past, or so I thought.  Family member Z did say the words “I forgive you”.

We had one of those AA moments you only get doing 12 steps.  However Z would bring up all kinds of past events at the past at random times.  I always felt so sad around this person.  I would eventually make some judgement about them and try not to show it.  Overall, what I am saying is that the relationship was unhealthy.

Boundaries were needed for this person in my life.  Good thing I was court ordered to therapy 3 times a week for 3 years.  I knew what boundaries were and how to communicate them, that was for sure.  I clearly told family member Z.  However, they did not understand what I was doing.

They would tell me exactly how I felt.  I was being a bad person by putting up a wall of communication.  Eventually I just stopped talking to Z (I had to stay sober).  At times I was sad about it, so eventually (6 months) I did talk to them again.  But, it took everything I learned, Ill tell you why.

I did some CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy).  Really this is just mindfulness over every single thing that has ever happened to you in your entire life!  It all gets worked out in counseling something like this.  The counselor asks you over and over, “So what happened to you?”  Eventually you talk about your parents.

Here is the thing, my past is really not that interesting.  I grew up in Detroit.  Mom and Dad both drank alcoholically.  I fell in with the wrong group and learned some bad habits.  Now I am 34 years old so big deal.  I try to own my own shit.

Brandon on vacation in Portland, OR.

Understanding yourself is not at all judging.  CBT is like a microscope on how you really feel.  In life we have problems, Shock!  Some of my examples are women or gambling issues.  Oh, sometimes I am a dramatic dude!  If you relate then ask yourself, why am I drinking or using drugs?  If you’re drinking or using drugs to excess because that’s just what your parents did.  Okay get real, why do that?

I am asking, what is the real reason?  You may say something like, “umm, dad worked hard and he felt like he deserved beer”.  “Mom was stressed from life so she needed pills to escape.”  Those things may be true.  But why do you personally drink or use?

Whatever those reasons are for you, there are feelings behind that event or person.  I arrived at some kind of realization.  If you know therapy, then you have heard this first part before.  I learned and accepted, “my parents did the best with what they had.”  Okay great, acceptance.

Later on I added to that, “I do not have to be anything like my parents, as an adult I get to choose.”  No big deal, I am a adult, wow!  Look again, what are the values behind this thought?  Freedom or courage, or both?  Once I started doing this second part, I more clearly understood the reward center of my brain.

The bottom line for me was; I never had to do one thing with the expectation of another again unless I choose too.  So I do not owe my family anything.  And that is not being selfish if your family is full of unhealthy alcoholics.  Rocky said “People do cause they want to!”  I eventually want to count myself as a person who gives back to others what was freely given to me.

I do not know how to be unselfish if I am trying to live up to my parents expectation of me.  I have to live up to my expectation of me.  So who the hell am I?  I wrote down some values that I want in my life and I try to think about them in prayer or meditation.  Some of mine are self-compassion, discipline and faith.

Do you know how to get any sanctification out of life at all?  This alcoholic does.  I need to have, Discipline and dedication.  Whenever my mind wants to take the path of least resistance that I learned as a youth.  I start to ask myself, “What must happen?”  Then I get a laundry list of goals that leads to my vision for my life.  Values, goals and vision!

I did all this stuff in my life to find freedom.  I never knew what freedom was until I got sober.  I always had someone telling me what to do in life until I was middle aged.  Have you changed any values in your life?  If so comment below some values that have helped in your sobriety.

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Never called myself alcoholic until DUI #3

I may as well start at the beginning.  My 91 days in jail recovery plan.  The title of this blog is not totally true.  I used to go into bars back in early 2013 near the end of my drinking carrier.  I would tell anyone who would listen, “I am a alcoholic, I need to cut back on drinking”.  One bartender said, “you say the same thing every time I see you buddy!”

I am not proud of my bottom or my drinking.  I simply tell the story.  It is what we do if we are one of the lucky few to have a story.  Over the last few years I told it a number of times.  At first I was excited to tell everyone about how I got “Saved by God!”  I told everyone what works, exactly how it works, specifically why it works.  Alcoholics call this the pink cloud.

After a while my story became more polished.  I could tell you all the reasons why I am a drunk.  I could tell you how I got my faith in AA.  I learned a great deal about myself.  The more I learned the less I liked myself.  My program became difficult around year 2-3.  These days I have learned not think about it so much.  My best shares and my best meetings are when I do not think about what I have to say.

Let me explain how it was in the end.  As people in AA say, the experience.  I was living in Lake Tahoe (Nevada side) going to Sierra Nevada college.  I had a 1.6 GPA overall.  Over the summer I got a place to stay with a friend of mine at the Cal-Neva casino.  I started working down the street at the Crystal bay club (Security work).  The time line for this is June 2013.  I had already got DUI’s 1 and 2 starting at the end of 2012.

I had this crappy 2001 Hondai Accent, the cops must have known me.  I also had been driving for about 3 years without license, registration or insurance.  Okay, things were just crazy.  I told my roommate (lets call him Jim) “Isn’t this great, we live in a casino. We have a jar full of weed and booze right downstairs at the bar if we need it!”  Jim says, “No dude, this sucks.”  Jim ended up going home and joined recovery.  I ended up staying at the casino because I thought I had it made (as long as I was not sober).

Fast forward, to June 11th 2013 the night I took my last drink (or any illegal drug).  I happened to be on my way out to the local bars because my birthday was on the 12th of June (I was turning 30).  The joke was always, “lets have a couple of beers”.  Really I wanted to get good and drunk.

The irony is in this one detail.  The guy I was hanging with that night (lets call him Rod), he had just done 9 years in prison.  This was for a hit and run DUI which caused manslaughter.  He got out early on exceptional behavior.  We had met earlier through some good friends we both knew.  He had remained sober for years and worked hard on his life.  I think in spiritual way, our paths were combined and then split apart again on a different path.

Before the DUI Rod said, “take this street it is safer”.  It was a way I usually would not take.  I promptly got pulled over.  I pulled into the bowling ally because I did not want to get a tow by the cops for being parked in the street.  When the cops asked me “Why do you think we pulled you over.”  I just blurted out, “because I am drunk.”  I always learned it is best to tell the truth in the military.

One part of this I laugh about is what I said to the police while I was getting cuffed and arrested.  They said, “well you failed the sobriety test so we have to arrest you!”  I said, “listen, I am a Army vet so if we just all forget about this whole thing, I will not tell anybody!”  The self-entitlement I had.  I looked at Rod that day as I pulled away in the police car headed to Reno jail.  This would not be the last time I would see Rod.

About 2 years into my sobriety I got a call that Rod was in the hospital here in Reno.  I went and seen him, he had been drinking himself to death.  Just a detox, guys at the bars I used to frequent were coming to visit him.  I prayed for him and gave him my phone number.  But I could see it, he was not done.

I was never planning on quitting drinking 1 day before I turned 30.  But I happen to spend 91 days in Washoe county jail.  Here I quickly became lead chef, serving the worst food to the worst people.  You want to feel like a smart guy, just end up in jail.  It is here that I believe I personally took step 1.  After I got out I got right into treatment.  I got a sponsor and took all the the steps as described in the Big Book of AA.  This was my introduction to the program of recovery.

I have only a little time with 4 years sober.  I also know only a little.  However, this is such a good bottom story that I pray to what I call God that I never change it.  The desire to drink or use drugs has left me thanks to a spiritual power beyond my understanding.

Hey, thanks for reading this blog.  Want to know more about me?  Read my first blog at:  If you like this blog or however you felt about it, just say so in the comments below.  If you have other blogs about recovery that you think I would like or that you like, feel free to paste links in the comments.  Also I would like to connect with you, follow me on Twitter please .  Thanks all.