On today’s episode of The SHAIR Podcast we have Jeff Tabler joining us. He recently celebrated his 1 year Sobriety Anniversary 2 days before St. Patty’s day.
He’s a prominent member of the SHAIR Private Facebook Group and very active in his local recovery community. But prior to joining 12 step recovery Jeff battled with severe alcoholism that lead to 5 DUI’s, incarceration, and the loss of his wife. Join us now and hear the whole story.
Clean Date: March 15, 2015
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This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation
Here are Jeff’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights:
Jeff: Prayer. Prayer and meditation. Every morning I get up. People say get up and hit your knees. I just don’t. I don’t know. I’m not the kind of guy. I can talk to God as a man, and I feel like I don’t have to get up and literally … I get that maybe it’s figurative for people, sometimes. I just lay in bed, I open my eyes, I think through my day, and I ask my higher power, I ask God. I say, “What would you have me do today?”
Jeff: Then I carry on throughout my day and if I start to question what’s going on, I stop and try to center myself. I don’t need to take fifteen, twenty minutes to meditate, either. If I need to stop for thirty seconds, a minute and a half, just to stop and say what’s my motivation here? Am I doing this out of necessity, or am I doing this as an attention seeking behavior? I can usually figure that answer out right away.
Omar: Jeff, tell us about your cleaning time. When is your anniversary date, because right now I think it was like two days ago, right?
Jeff: You are correct, sir. I was out practicing for Saint Patty’s Day. I was warming up. It was two days from Saint Patty’s Day, so I was getting all warmed up for the green beer and the shots of Jameson. Somebody decided that I was all practiced up and it was time to get in the game.
Omar: That’s a miracle. March 15, 2015, right?
Jeff: Yes, and actually it was March 14, so I say that next day is my actual sobriety date because I was shitfaced when he pulled me over on the 14th.
Omar: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I didn’t claim the 25th. I claimed the 26th.
Jeff: Right. Yeah. I did that too, and I struggled with that too because I sobered up that night. Fuck, I spent the night in jail. I struggled, and I talked to people about it. I’m not going to lie to you. The first month, the first three months, by God, it was the 14th. Then I started to say, you know bro, what’s that extra day? I didn’t gain or lose anything that I haven’t learned in the past ten, twelve years being in and out of this thing.
Omar: How old were you the first time you drank or used drugs and, more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Jeff: Man, the first time I drank? Let me see. Eleven years old. Eleven years old. My buddy from down the street came over. He was a year older than me in school. We had this big ass hill right down the end of our street, and back then … I don’t know if many of you out there remember, but remember the plastic skateboards with the plastic wheels? Now these kids got these bad ass wooden decks and super wheels and all that shit. I had the little plastic joint, with the plastic rickety wheels, and we would bomb the shit out of that hill on one of those things. He came over, and had snuck into his mom’s liquor cabinet and grabbed a bottle of vodka. So we’re like, “Let’s see what this is about.”
It tasted like absolute horseshit. We figured out that it tasted a lot better with fruit juice. Anything. Apple juice, grape juice, orange juice. Man, this stuff tastes pretty damn good now. It was a bottle of Smirnoff, is what it was. His mom was one of those uppity drinkers, so she had the good shit. It was a half a fifth, is what it was, and we finished that bottle off. He was sweating. He was like, “What the eff have we done?” Filled that thing back up with water and put it back. Mom will never notice, right?
Omar: Of course not.
Jeff: Right, well Mom came home, and we were fucking shitty and puking in the yard, and trying to avoid his mom. We headed back on up the hill. Back then, when we would sit on these skateboards and this was a pretty steep hill. We decided to go up to the hill, sit on our skateboards, and then come bombing down that hill. Both of us wiped out into each other. We were scraps from head to toe. Went back down to his house. His mom was there. Found all this puke because we puked right off his porch, right off his porch into his mom’s little flower garden shit down there. I’m sure it smelled to high Heaven right outside her front door. He caught hell. They called my mom and dad and told them what was up. I caught hell.
We weren’t allowed to hang out for a couple weeks after that. We were both grounded for a couple weeks, and poor me. This is miserable. We probably shouldn’t do that. Two weeks later, we pick right back up and I break into my parent’s liquor cabinet. By then, we had learned not to drink so much and we’ll just put a little bit of water back in. Yeah, that’s how it started and it was great because you’ve got these new feelings, and you felt cool or invincible, like no fear. We were standing up on those skateboards, bombing that hill. Like I said, we were sitting on those skateboards, normally, riding down the hill.
We got to a point where we’re half in the bag trying to stand up and go down that hill, so we saw many, many, many, more scraped up knees, elbows, and cheeks, and noses over the next probably couple summers until my family actually moved. We still stayed in the same town, but we moved out to a gated community. My parents both had really good jobs, so we ended up moving out over to the, not to say really the rich side of town, but there was definitely more affluent and families over there where we moved to. That was the end of me and my buddy, Keith.
Omar: All right, so number one. What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Jeff: Me myself, man. Ego. That’s the easiest answer in the world. My fucking ego. This thing isn’t unmanageable. I’m not powerless. I don’t need a higher power. I got this. I can’t tell you how many times that I prayed for God to get me out of the shit, and he didn’t. There’s no such thing as God. Eff God. Eff God. He didn’t get me out. Where was he when I was getting in shit and asking for his help? That’s exactly what kept me from it.
Omar: Perfect. Perfect. All right, so number two. At one point did you have that spiritual awakening, that a-ha moment in recovery, when you finally accept that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, and developed a hope that you could recover?
Jeff: That’s huge, man. That’s a great question, though. For me, there weren’t … I take that back. There were a-ha moments, but what I expected for so many years in this thing was that the skies to open, and this light to shine down on me, and angels to sing, and I never had that thing. I never had it. If you read spiritual experience in the back of the book, it says that these spiritual experiences may be the educational variety, so a lot of those a-ha moments were the educational variety. I heard these things for years. For years I had heard that, but I didn’t want to listen. I couldn’t. I don’t know. I wouldn’t listen to it.
It was probably four or five years ago, when I had that last solid amount of recovery that I had, that I was getting those messages. Again, when my sponsor took off, I took over again. I let go again. I let go of God and I don’t want to say he let go of me, but he gave of us all our free will, so I took my free will back and took control again. I needed to be shown. I needed to be shown, see this is what you can do. Now, let me hold your hand again, Jeff. When I came back here in March of last year and probably when I started hitting back meetings, it was the end of March, beginning of April, is I opened back up the door. I put the keys on the table and I said, “Here you go, man. I’m tired. I’m tired, boss. Yeah, you can drive again.” It wasn’t this big, bright, shining … It was just being tired and then saying I know it works, it’s worked before, let me let it work again. Let me do what I did before. That’s what did it for me.
Omar: Number four, Jeff. What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Jeff: Close your mouth. Open your ears. That one’s probably at the top of my list.
Omar: That was the one they told me. Take the cotton out of your ears and stick it in your mouth.
Jeff: I’m cocky, dude. I’m a cocky cat, so it was hard. Once I did it, though, I heard some shit. I heard some shit I needed to hear, and that’s why it’s hard for me to pick just one thing. Let it happen. Don’t force it to happen. The serenity prayer, are you kidding me? How many times a day do I use that?
Omar: A lot.
Jeff: I use it a lot through the day, because we’re out there in the real world. They call it the real world, but the real world is what you make of it. We got to go out there and deal with people who are … Let’s let them call themselves normal, sure, but they’re just as effed up as we are. Trust me. I deal with that on a daily basis. I’m telling you that finding my serenity, and wisdom to know which battles to fight and which ones not to, has been a great part of my program and a great part of my recovery, and a great life lesson. Just to deal with life on life’s terms. You’re not going to win every battle and every day’s not going to be the greatest day, even in recovery. However, I’ll take my worst day sober over my best day drunk any day of the week now. Absolutely, in a heartbeat I will.
Omar: That’s my go-to prayer when I get angry, or when I’m lost, or when there’s something, or I’m just feeling off. The serenity prayer is the go-to prayer. It’s the one that will just settle you down, because the reality is right after that I got to turn it over. I got to ask for help, and the serenity prayer is the one I go to. I love it. Jeff, one more question. If you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would it be?
Jeff: Let the miracle happen.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“Let the miracle happen.”
Omar: I love it. Yes.
Jeff: Quit fighting.
Omar: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. No, that’s exactly right. Let the miracle happen, because it does. It does happen. Like we were just talking about, it’s not a burning bush. It’s not like God is talking to you, but all of a sudden you just get this feeling that everything’s going to be all right. That is a miracle.
Jeff: Absolutely it is. Are you kidding me? I have done so much screwing up in my life I didn’t think I was going to get another opportunity, yet opportunities keep presenting themselves to me because I’m open to the solution.
Omar: God has big plans for you, Jeff.
Jeff: He must. He absolutely must.
Omar: Yes, there’s no question about it. No question about it. All right, brother, we have now reached the end of our show. Jeff, thanks again for joining us.
Jeff: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much. This has been a phenomenal experience on my journey. I’m so glad I did it. I’m so glad you asked, and I am so glad I waited.
Omar: Yeah, me too.
Jeff: I’m glad I didn’t do it when you asked me to do it. I feel like I had more to tell, and I still had some lessons to learn, and I still got more to learn. I’m a neophyte. I’m an infant right now. I’m a year old. I’m one year old today. I’m a year and two days old.
Omar: That’s right.
Jeff: There’s a ton more to learn, but it’s been a phenomenal experience. As you said, we are bonded for life. Thank you. I can’t thank you enough for this awesome experience.
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Jeff!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.